Farmersville debates rolling out new dispensaries

Valley Pure cannabis dispensary located on Noble Ave. in Farmersville. (Kenny Goodman)

City council discusses potential risks, benefits to updating cannabis dispensary business permits from three to five within city limits

FARMERSVILLE – Following the haze of consideration, the city of Farmersville has reached a bit of a dead end on the discussion of increasing the limit on the city’s dispensary business permits, ultimately sparking a joint decision to revisit the issue at another time.

Farmersville City Council discussed the possibility of increasing the city’s cannabis business permits from three to five at its meeting on March 11. After discussion amongst the council and after hearing public comment, they chose to table the issue for a later date.

The issue was brought forward by City Manager Jennifer Gomez, who explained that more dispensaries in the town might increase the city’s general fund significantly. According to a previous interview with Gomez, some declining revenues in the city’s general fund are leading the city to approach the 2024-25 fiscal year with a more conservative outlook.

However, most of the council members were not pleased with the idea of bringing more dispensaries to town given that most of them were hesitant towards allowing dispensaries into Farmersville to begin with.

The original resolution approved in 2019 was to issue three permits. This was meant to give the council time to determine how the initial dispensaries would impact the community and to see if the market would support more or not.

From City Manager Gomez’s perspective, the number of customers coming from other cities to the dispensaries has indicated the regional market is not oversaturated, which was a concern of various councilmembers. She also believes the interest in other dispensaries is a sign that the market is doing well, since business owners wouldn’t want to invest their time into starting a business that would be in an oversaturated area.

“While the revenues have decreased in the last couple of years, this is partially explained due to dispensaries opening in nearby communities,” City Manager Gomez said.

She continued by explaining that the popularity of the products in the state has decreased the wholesale value of cannabis, which has brought down the overall price of all of the products, the sales tax and – by extension – the city’s tax revenue. Because of this, City Manager Gomez said she thinks dispensaries in town have potential to increase the general fund if it leads to an increase in cannabis purchases.

As it stands right now, only two out of the three dispensary permits are being used by open businesses, one being Token Farms and the other Valley Pure. Farmersville’s third dispensary, Platinum Connection, has been working towards opening up for a while.

Since the opening of a third dispensary could give more insight into the regional cannabis market in Farmersville, multiple council members thought they should wait until Platinum Connection opens to see how it impacts sales.

“I think that we need to get the third one the opportunity to open up and see what that brings in,” Mayor Tina Hernandez said.

Council members Danny Valdonvinos and Paul Boyer echoed her sentiments by stating they also wanted to leave the number of dispensaries at three.

Some of the council members had mixed feelings on the subject, explaining that given the situation and viewpoints of their fellow council members, Farmersville might want to re-evaluate adding more dispensaries later down the road.

“The other day I was thinking that we should just leave it at three (dispensaries), but today, maybe four,” Councilmember Armando Hinohosa said. However, Hinohosa went on to say it would be fair to allow the owner of Platinum Connection, Charles Woody, some time to operate the business to see if there is any impact on sales.

Councilmember Boyer expressed his concern that the added competition might not increase sales and will only just split the customer base more.

“I just think that three is enough. I think that we’re just kind of splitting more of the same revenue, and making it more difficult for those businesses already there to thrive and continue,” Boyer said.

These concerns were also echoed by Woody and owner of Token Farms, Jennifer Mendonca, who attended the meeting to ask council to give Platinum Connection more time to open and operate before increasing the number of dispensary permits.

“Are we getting a fair shake to open up instead of being stepped on?,” Woody asked during public comment.

Woody recalled how the council originally voted to allow only two permits into town before adding the third permit at a later date, which went to Valley Pure. From Woody’s standpoint, this already diluted the market to some degree, and considering that Platinum Connection was one of the first two dispensaries to get a permit, he seemed of the mind that his business hasn’t received a fair shot yet.

He continued by pointing out that, out of the city’s initial evaluation of the dispensaries that were interested in opening in town, Platinum Connection was rated second.

This comment received some pushback from Councilmember Greg Gomez, who said that he recalls Platinum Connections being rated as the city’s third or fourth choice out of the available options.

However, according to a past report from The Sun Gazette in 2019, in the city’s evaluation process completed by a consultant from HDL, out of the four companies that scored high enough to qualify for a permit, Platinum Connections was rated second place right behind Token Farms.

“What I’m trying to do here is minimize the competition that we have to go against (and ask the council not to) chop up all of our revenue even further when we haven’t even had a chance to get going,” Woody said.

Mendonca also chimed in to ask council to not allow more dispensaries in the city just yet. She explained that Token Farms’ revenue has been dropping since cannabis’ best year in 2022, when the pandemic was coming to an end. From her point of view, their revenue has already decreased since 2022, partly because of local competition from Lindsay, Porterville, Lemoore, Hanford and Fresno.

“All those cities pull from our revenues,” Mendonca said. “For you guys, as city staff, to have two top 10 revenue stores in the state of California out of the hundreds of dispensaries…(which) pass their audits with flying colors says a lot to the city of Farmersville.”

Token Farms owner Jennifer Mendonca, who attended the meeting along with Platinum Connections owner Charles Woody to ask Farmersville City Council not to allow the increase of cannabis dispensary business permits in the city just yet. (Karis Caddell)

She also pointed out that the state tax laws changed in 2023, which also cut the dispensary’s revenue.

“That being said, I think Platinum Connections received the license at the same time we did in 2019,” Mendonca said. “I think it’s only fair that they do get an opportunity to get going to see how this truly does impact our business and Valley Pure’s business.”

She continued to say that she doesn’t expect the council to keep from allowing more dispensaries in town forever, but she hopes they let Platinum Connection have a few quarters to operate first.

“When I brought the subject of allowing cannabis in Farmersville…it was to provide a funding stream for the city, one that I think has worked really well,” Councilmember Greg Gomez said. “I’m not tied to three. I think we should allow as many (dispensaries) as the zoning will allow for.”

Councilmember Gomez continued to explain that although he is not opposed to more dispensaries, he will go with the rest of the council and ultimately they decided to table the issue until a later date.

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