Allowing marijuana sales in Sunnyside a very bad idea



Don Vlieger

The Sunnyside City Council will soon make a decision on whether to permit retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside.

This decision will have far-reaching impacts on our community. Perhaps, before that decision is made, we as a community and the city council should consider five simple questions regarding marijuana sales in Sunnyside.

Is it legal?

The simple answer is no. Under federal law marijuana is a controlled substance and a dangerous drug.

Council members take an oath to obey the U.S. Constitution, which includes following laws passed by congress in a constitutional process.

The Controlled Substances Act, in which marijuana is listed, was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 (Gonzales v. Raich). Voting to allow marijuana sales in Sunnyside would violate the oath of office…possibly making elected council members subject to recall.

Is it moral?

As parents and authority figures, we all know how important what we do and say is in impacting the lives of our children. What does it say to our kids when the government endorses the sale, distribution and consumption of marijuana?

It is one thing to decriminalize marijuana and quite another to endorse the sale and to profit from it.

Is it ethical?

The city council just voted to give Sunnyside United $30,000, not provided for in the planning of the budget, for gang and drug intervention programs. Cannabis abuse is up dramatically in our schools since I-502 passed.

In the past year, almost 200 kids were referred for marijuana treatment services in Sunnyside alone. This is the equivalent to 10 percent of high school students in the district.

Church and community organizational leaders point out a retail store will increase availability of the drug for young people in the city.

What kind of schizophrenic mental processing does it take to deplete inadequate city reserves by funding expenditures for drug intervention services at one meeting, and then five meetings later, consider licensing illicit drug sales?

Is it the right thing to do?

The list of negative impacts government-sanctioned sales of marijuana will have on our community is long. I have yet to hear of the positive effects this will have on Sunnyside.

Will it help our image to be one of the only retail marijuana cities in Yakima or Benton counties? Will it make us safer? Will it help our citizens be more productive contributors to our community?

Will it work?

As it stands right now, Sunnyside may wind up being the only marijuana retail city in Yakima or Benton counties. Can you imagine what kind of folks are going to be descending on our city from a 50-mile radius? There is a reason that the interim police chief and our city manager are so vocally and adamantly opposed to this very bad idea.

The problem is that there is a block of four council members determined to ram this down the throat of the community. Council members Hancock, Guerrero, Martin and Restucci do not seem to care that 63 percent of Sunnyside voted against retail marijuana sales. Mr. Martin campaigned on being “the voice you deserve.” There is no clearer voice than a 63 percent no vote.

It is up to us.

Retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside is a very bad idea. Once allowed, it will be nearly impossible to go back.

Go to the city’s website and get the phone numbers of council members Hancock, Guerrero, Martin and Restucci. Call them, attend the April 28 public hearing, and be heard.

Don Vlieger is a former three-term Sunnyside City Councilman.


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C_T_D 4 years ago

What a surprise, Vlieger is still trying to hold Sunnyside back. Yes, let's deny citizens new jobs in a new industry. We've got way too many jobs around here anyway.

"It is one thing to decriminalize marijuana and quite another to endorse the sale and to profit from it." So, what, we should deny there is already a market? We should leave those sales without tax or regulation? You know who really wants regulated marijuana sales banned in the area? Dealers.

Someone is bitter they lost their election so badly.


akingskidd 4 years ago

Said perfectly! Thank you sir. I am praying for a spirit of 'common sense' to come from this city council.


UOENO 4 years ago

Wow. Don!! Bravo. You are being derogatory towards your council members. Way to be in support of your local government. Some issues I have. Just because Yakima County or Sunnyside voted against I-502 doesn’t make it not legal. Yakima County and Sunnyside also voted against gay marriage and guess what??? It’s legal!!

Do you drink alcohol Don? I bet you also drank in front of your children and grandchildren. Does this make you a poor example to your family?

I agree the youth does not need to get their hands on drugs or alcohol, but guess what? They are. You can buy cigarettes and alcohol at stores and yet some how teenagers had a blast at Prom this past weekend indulging in both drugs and alcohol. It is beyond the control of local government. Parents, teachers, administrators and even police turn the other way. why? Because it is their own children. Look at social media sites. NO NOT FACEBOOK. Look at kids snapchats, Instagram and Twitter posts. iIt is posted all over doing drugs and drinking in their parents homes. I smoked weed for the first time when I was 24 years old. I had never tried it before but I will tell you. It changed my life. I no longer need to take prescription medications to deal with my anxiety. I have a successful job and have children in college. And yes they know I smoke. It is really no big deal. Try it, you could use a little to take the stick out.



linariley 4 years ago

Raines and Vlieger. Vlieger and Raines. There is still the slit up Jason's shirt where Don's hand is inserted. Of course unregulated sales are better~ IN WHO'S MIND? The council did not legalize Marijuana, the people of the State of Washington did. But obviously Mr. Vlieger knows better than the voters and wants to keep the militarized nanny state going and Mr. Raines is glad to do his bidding. If astounding numbers of minors are smoking, then what we are currently doing isn't working. There is no way Mr. Vlieger as stated in your piece that the results of the legalization of Marijuana use can be measured yet, however, you are willing, as you did on council to skew the statistics to get where you wanna go no matter the cost. Being a deputy sheriff 20 years ago does not make you an expert now. Your self aggrandizing and hyperbole are old, That's why you were voted off the island by a large margin.


ssoverlord 4 years ago

Does anyone really listen to this guy outside his very small circle of friends? His record of public decisions and bloviation from the Dias is one of bad decisions compounded by his self righteous moral superiority that he tells us comes from his vast experiences in all things.

It's absolutely laughable that he complains about a majority of council trying force this down decision down the throats of the public. Well he should know! He and his cohorts tried to force privatization of water, sewer, and ambulance services on people and I venture a safe guess that if this had been put to a public vote it would have been close to 100% against that boondoggle! They routing ignored the voices who came before them at every council meeting and did as they wanted. They ignored the minority of council members who tried to bring reason to the debate. The first act they committed was firing Leo Fancy. They ignored state and federal laws and regulations to fix the treatment plant which resulted in a 350,000 lawsuit settlement and in the extra costs to rebuild because if inflation. They directed the city manager to violate state law with the purchase of the Monson property without an expressed public purpose or use which in the end will cost the city 4 times the purchase price. He had no proble using his victory over Carol Stone by a handful of votes as a political mandate to wreck havoc on the city finances between 2009 and 2013.


naturalman2005 4 years ago

What ever if you got'em lite'm up........LOL


StudyBudy 4 years ago

Truly hypocritical how we stigmatize marijuana use and endorse alcohol consumption... The article states that availability would increase, but this is false as it is already VERY available here, I know, I by it all the time. I have 3 dealers I can contact if I need ANYTHING, but I stick to the green. Our resources should not be wasted on fighting a battle that was lost a long time ago, marijuana use is here to stay, cope with it. Our goal should be to cut down the current illegal market that advertises other harder drugs to our youth, like cocaine. I would also argue that allowing a new industry in our "wal-mart run" town would bring more business and more jobs.


StudyBudy 4 years ago

Is it legal? Federal law says, NO. State law (the law washingtonians actually abide by) says, YES.


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