Business · Visalia/Tulare

Visalia City Council shoots down possibility for marijuana dispensaries – for now

Despite many cities across the Central Valley – and Tulare County – opening their doors to marijuana operations, Visalia will not be one of them. 

The Visalia City Council found itself split during a work session regarding the interest in allowing cannabis-related businesses in the city. 

City staff prepared a report for lawmakers to lay out the options that the city could move forward with regarding various cannabis operations. 

But before the council could discuss which types of cannabis-related businesses to allow, staff presented a key question: Do you wish to allow cannabis-related businesses within Visalia? 

That drew a split 2-2 vote as the council was down to four members following last week’s passing of Vice Mayor Phil Cox

Without a majority of the councilmembers wanting to consider cannabis-related businesses, the work session wrapped up and any hopes of marijuana dispensaries opening up in Visalia in the near future died. 

Mayor Steve Nelsen refused to be swayed by surrounding communities – such as Farmersville, Tulare and Woodlake – that have issued licenses for cannabis dispensaries. 

He said he understands that some people may have a medical need for cannabis, but he would not support any type of dispensary in Visalia. 

Councilman Brett Taylor said the city previously permitted a smoke shop to open up in his district, which has since drawn large opposition from the community, and he was happy to be able to vote against marijuana moving forward in order to prevent a similar situation from arising. 

On the other hand, councilmembers Greg Collins and Brian Poochigian wanted to have further discussions about bringing marijuana businesses to Visalia. 

Collins noted that the narrative and concerns about marijuana use have changed over the years, and with many medical uses for it, he felt it was time for Visalia to get on board. 

For Poochigian, his concern was with the possibility that the state will force the city’s hand eventually. He wanted the council to at least approve a tax structure so the city is prepared just in case.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at