By Crystal Havner
Special to the Sun-Gazette
FARMERSVILLE – Cities up and down the Valley have had pot on their mind lately. The question of the day has been whether to allow the commercial cannabis industry into town or not? The next question is then what type of cannabis business are they willing to allow? And two weeks ago the Farmersville City Council questioned their existing policy over cannabis product deliveries and retail. While they seemed to stand pat on prohibiting deliveries, they are willing to consider allowing the possibility for dispensaries.
Charles Woody of Platinum Gardens and Juan Hernandez of Central Valley Alternative both gave presentations about their businesses. They were asking for the council to overturn the ban on cannabis sales in the city. Commercial cultivation is currently allowed, but no sales.
Woody said they are looking at a site on Noble Avenue which would have room for growth and a dispensary in a building already there.
“It’s a site in the heart of Tulare County,” he said. “It will also keep traffic out of central Farmersville and potentially earn $500,000 a year in taxes for the city.”
Woody also explained the security and safety of the site.
“People have to be over 21 and will be carded twice,” he said. “Once when they enter and once when they make a purchase. This legal dispensary really makes a dent in the black market and people are getting a product they know is safe.”
Woody said the site would have 24-hour video surveillance that will be saved for 180 days. The video will be available to the police department if requested.
Hernandez spoke to the council about his mobile service. Customers can order the product on-line and it is delivered safely and discretely. Customers set up accounts proving they are eligible to purchase. Hernandez said all that information would be available to the local police department in real-time.
“They would have the access to jump on line and monitor the deliveries,” he said.
In order to host Central Valley Alternative in the city the council would also have to change the zoning in the area to allow cannabis sales.
City manager Jennifer Gomez recommended that the zone on the south side of Noble be changed to light industrial to allow for cannabis sales if the council votes in favor of the dispensary.
Vice mayor Matt Sisk expressed his concerns over the idea of delivery, citing an additional burden on public resources.
“We just don’t feel comfortable with the idea of cars whipping through town delivering this stuff,” said Sisk. “I just think it would add a burden to our police force.”
While the Council seemed to put their foot down on deliveries, council member Greg Gomez said the City needs to get in line with dispensaries.
“It’s happening whether we allow it or not. It‘s just whether or not the city is making money or not,” Gomez said.
Police chief Mario Krstic said, “If this is done properly it can be appealing but keep it in an outlying area.”
Fire Chief John Crivello said, “They have shown very good things from a safety perspective and it will drive away the black market.”
The council voted to take another look at allowing dispensaries with Lionel Benevidez being the only one to disapprove.
“We already made a decision to not allow sales. We shouldn’t get all wishy-washy now,” he said.