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Written by John Lindt
The community of Lemoore appears ready to offer a full-on embrace of the “cannabusiness” with four projects now in the works, including the Valley’s first pot cafe or cannabis bar — officially called a “consumption center.”
It would be operated by Grover Beach-based Natural Healing Center, and could open later this year. That will require approval from the city council at its Feb. 4 meeting. Natural Healing Center already has three walk-in dispensary locations on the Central Coast and one dispensary under construction in Lemoore.
Lemoore has another dispensary approved and under construction as well, Valley Pure. A third cannabis-related project called Wellsona got the green light last fall — a 14-acre facility that will include cultivation that could mean an estimated $220,000 in tax revenue, City Manager Nate Olson has estimated. Wellsona would include guided tours, an event center and also offer pot delivered to your front door.
But it’s the plan to open a “consumption café” in this small town that has people talking. There are not many around. The first café where patrons can smoke cannabis opened in West Hollywood just last October. Now a few are starting up, including one in Berkeley.
Some urban areas in Valley have fought to keep retail pot stores or pot smoke-filled cafes outside their city limits, such as Visalia and Fresno. That has prompted the industry to launch their stores and manufacturing facilities in more welcoming smaller towns, such as Woodlake, where Valley Pure was launched. County jurisdictions including Fresno, Tulare and Kings have also declined to allow the projects. Now Farmersville and Lindsay have joined the chorus. Sources say Visalia may rethink its opposition sometime soon.
The Fresno City Council this week approved final regulations for retail pot after years of debate.
The migration of retail marijuana entrepreneurs from the Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley follows the path of popular craft beer operations in the past few years, including Paso Robles based BarrelHouse, which has now launched taprooms in the Valley opening in Visalia and soon in Fresno. Now another yummy product, premium ice cream, is headed down the same path from SLO to Visalia and soon Sacramento — Doc Bernstein’s.
Natural Healing Center, the business that wants open that first pot cafe, started up in Grover Beach — a small city that decided not to hesitate to attract this type of business. Grover Beach cannabis retailer Natural Healing Center is owned by longtime medical marijuana businessman Helios Dayspring. He spent millions to start up his vertically integrated operation simultaneously planting marijuana farms in San Luis Obispo County, including along Los Osos Valley Road.
Likewise with Madera-based Greenbrier Holdings, which has Central Coast growing operations — 18 acres of greenhouse cultivation in partnership with Valley Crest and Ceres Farms in Santa Barbara and has now constructed a new 20,000 square-foot processing plant in Parlier. It is expected to employ 50.
Cities in the Valley are watching the Santa Barbara area, the largest pot cultivation county in the state. The cannabis industry in Santa Barbara County continues to generate more money than expected, bringing in $2.86 million in tax revenue in the last quarter.
Back in the Valley, expansion has also been from within at Valley Pure, with partners Wes Hardin and Tony Caudle now opening a second location in Farmersville after the success of their first operation in Woodlake.
The Farmersville store is larger, and right off Highway 198 — close enough to the big city of Visalia to attract some of that business. Now Farmersville has decided to allow three dispensaries in town, in addition to Valley Pure. Also open or coming soon are locally owned Token Farms and Platinum Connection — all off of 198.
But Valley Pure’s Hardin and Caudle aren’t worried about the increase in dispensaries, they told the press the other day.
“It makes us happy because we know we laid the groundwork,” Hardin said.
Besides a new store in Lemoore, Valley Pure plans a location in Lindsay as well.