Public safety subcommittee against allowing marijuana sales in Sunnyside


Bishop LaDon Linde of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presents his church’s position on the use of marijuana at Monday night’s meeting of the Sunnyside subcommittee on public safety. Linde said he supports a ban on the retail sale of marijuana in Sunnyside.

Marijuana was the topic at the Monday night meeting of the Sunnyside subcommittee on public safety. Following testimony by local religious and organizational leaders, the committee voted to approve a formal recommendation that Sunnyside ban the retail sale of marijuana within city limits.

Chair Jason Raines invited the ministerial association, the local bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Sunnyside United to give their official positions on allowing the retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside.

Also attending the meeting was Mary Van de Graaf, who has applied for a marijuana retail license through the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The Sunnyside Ministerial Association was represented by Pastor Cameron Garcia. The association is asking the Sunnyside City Council to ban the retail sale of marijuana within city limits due to a number of factors, including what the ministers describe as marijuana being detrimental to the health of youth, affecting brain development and IQ.

The association also cited studies that indicate marijuana has an addiction rate of one-in-six among youth. The association also emphasized that the legalization of marijuana has led youth to believe it is safe, when it is definitely not.

“Sunnyside is a very young community, nearly 40 percent of our population is 18 or younger,” said Garcia. “We are concerned about the message it sends to our youth by allowing a retail store.”

Speaking next was LaDon Linde, the local bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He stated he agreed with the statements of the ministerial association. He also asked what the city gets for legalizing marijuana and cited the overall addiction rate of 10 percent and how marijuana tends to be a gateway drug.

Linde also noted that his church has a prohibition on tobacco and alcohol, and said the rule was made to protect the weakest of the population.

“Can some people have a drink or smoke once and never have a problem?” he said. “Of course. But how do we know ahead of time who they are? We need to protect the people who will become addicted. That’s why we put these rules in place.”

Linde said that people cannot deny the damage that the erosion of morals has caused to society. He said that a lack of respect for chastity has led to social problems. Failing to stand against drugs, he said, will do damage.

“We have the responsibility as the adults in the room, in society,” he said. “We need to protect the adults as well as the children. Unfortunately, wisdom does not always come with age.

“I would support a ban on the retail sale of marijuana,” he said. “The attorney general has given us that opportunity, we should take it.”

The last invited speaker was Marissa Howat, representing Sunnyside United. She presented facts that show Sunnyside youth are using marijuana in increasing numbers, and said that a retail outlet is not in the best interest of the youth of the city.

The only voice in favor of allowing retail outlets was Van de Graaf, who noted the rules and regulations in place for a retail outlet and said she wanted to be proactive to keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

Van de Graaf said she wants to work with police and make sure that, if the city does go forward and allow a retail outlet, that no marketing will be done to children. She said that she is looking at the drug more from a medicinal standpoint.

“I don’t know how you are going to stop it from being on the street,” she said. “I thought bringing it into a store might help control it better.”

Raines also asked city staff members to contribute to the discussion. City Manager Don Day said his 30-year history in law enforcement has convinced him that marijuana is not harmless. He first cited the fact that smoking anything is bad for human lungs. He also noted that businesses lied about the effects of tobacco for years.

“I believe that big business will get into this if there’s any money in it,” he said.

He also agreed with Linde, saying that some people can take drugs and not be affected, but it’s the ones that go back, again and again, that have a negative impact on society. He also mentioned Sunnyside’s recent history of gang violence and drug problems.

“You are never going to convince me this is a good idea,” he said.

From a law enforcement standpoint, Day also said it is currently very difficult and expensive to test for marijuana, costing between $300 and $400 for a blood test and requiring extra officer time.

“Legalization in Sunnyside will have a lot more adverse effects than any benefits,” he said.

Fire Chief Aaron Markham said it would not affect the fire department much. He said if people are able to get it elsewhere locally, they will bring it into town. As first responders, Markham said the firefighters don’t look for drug use.

“Head injuries mimic the effects of many drugs,” said Markham.

Markham said he believes that marijuana may have medical value, but that’s up to doctors and scientists to determine.

After all discussion was finished, subcommittee members Raines, Dean Broersma and Craig Hicks voted unanimously to recommend that the city of Sunnyside ban marijuana growing, processing and retailing within city limits.


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C_T_D 4 years, 2 months ago

While we're at it, let's get rid of anything addictive. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, television. video games, a very long list of prescription drugs, carbohydrates, coin and trading card collecting, etc. Who needs individual liberty? How about we educate both the parents and the students on why consuming marijuana is harmful to the developing brain? Banning it would do nothing other than prevent legitimate jobs from coming here and the ban would maintain the status quo for those that already sell it illegally.


jacklstickney 4 years, 2 months ago

I commend the community members who were willing to stand up for how they feel about this issue. Too often people are afraid to get involved and the vocal minority (those in favor of making marijuana more accessible) win out by default. Any comments by readers that go beyond this issue in this forum are only attempting to discredit these good people who care about the future of the community and its children.


Get_a_Clue 4 years, 2 months ago

C_T_D and cherrybobeddie Lets take a good look at your brainless rants. C_T_D so under your thinking we should also make any drug legal, who is the city or even the federal government to tell anyone what they can do. When "medical marijuana" started showing up they had tons of information about the effect of marijuana on the brain, the effect of children not being able to understand or retain information because for week after smoking pot they are still dealing with the effects. I have no problem with the FDA reaching marijuana. lets remove the THC which doesn't have any medical effect other than making you feel high. place it in a pill or liquid that can be sold like every other prescription drug. and do you think that a retail store selling over priced, over taxed marijuana is going to slow street dealers? your a fool if you do they will undercut the price and sell more of it. cherrybobeddie, First off this has nothing to do with the mormon church. so if you have a major problem with them thats your battle. you speak of community we are americans not some stupid race groups. this town is so stuck on whites, mexicans, blacks. with 1950's thinking we will stay a bunch of bigots. I want people to go to other towns to buy their marijuana, for 1% of the sales tax its not worth the problems that it will bring. If you have time take a good look at this side of the mountain, it failed by over 50% the sub committee isn't trying to change the state "right" is just trying to keep it out of our town. take a good look at Colorado most towns have banned the sale and growing only some of the bigger ones allow it, why you might ask? because of the increased crime and problems with it being in their towns. As for the alcohol around town look back just a few months and see how many stores have sold to children and have been caught. do you think anything will be different with marijuana? if so you need to take a break from your bong and clear your mind. As for "minorities" being arrested and thrown in jail, if you have a dealers amount of drugs you are going to jail, even with this new "right" doesn't matter what color you are.


akingskidd 4 years, 2 months ago

It is so refreshing to see many in our community stepping forward and embracing a spirit of common sense when it comes to promoting a healthy environment for our city. To encourage the opportunity to purchase a drug that has more negative effects than positive ones by opening a store selling it in out city would not be in the best interest for our young people or adults. Let's be smart on this one and say "no" to it happening here in Sunnyside. Yakima and Grandview got it right so let's follow suit.


kakaleena 4 years, 1 month ago

akingskidd..wait a minute....obviously you have no idea right now about the positives on "medical marijuana" as opposed to "opiates, oxi's etc. The new strains of marijuana produce very very little of the hallucinogenic content it had in the 50-60-70's.

However, it has an element in it that can take the level of pain away from people with severe pain. They are NOT the pot heads of yesteryear.

Sunnyside has a lot of religious folks and good people. Just by chance if all these folks, with their Church community members got together in "unity" to fight the darker element of crime here, just maybe these darker elements would just leave. Or at least be uncomfortable living here.

I suggest that we concentrate heavily on the GOOD that happens here, and the possibilities of an awesome town with great neighborhoods and people. Like a creeping weed in your nice little lawn...make the lawn grow stronger, and the weed will die and leave. If not, then we have other sources to take care of that weed.

Permits to grow and sell "recreational" marijuana in my view does not 'promote' usage and availability. Its already here, on the dark side of the law. But I think our town is strong to enough to keep it legal, safe, and available for those that feel the need to use it, but more for those that have a medical need for its use. its a free country. Change is difficult...but its not always bad.


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