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Coalition seeks common ground on retail marijuana issue

Pastor Cameron Garcia of Oasis Community Church in Sunnyside emphasizes his view that Sunnyside United should seek a ban on retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside.

Photo by John Fannin.
Pastor Cameron Garcia of Oasis Community Church in Sunnyside emphasizes his view that Sunnyside United should seek a ban on retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside.

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Sunnyside United Chair Steve Carpenter calls for a special meeting during yesterday’s coalition session to focus solely on a position related to marijuana sales in Sunnyside.

While united on discouraging teen alcohol and drug use, members of the Sunnyside United coalition are less so when it comes to whether the city should ban retail marijuana sales.

During a meeting yesterday, Thursday, the coalition reviewed a draft version of its stance on retail sales. The Sunnyside City Council will be discussing the issue in the near future and the planning commission has recommended approval of retail sales.

Reaching a consensus statement soon on marijuana sales is key for Sunnyside United because it has been asked to provide comment during the city council’s public safety subcommittee meeting on April 7.

The draft talking points reviewed yesterday expressed concerns about increased availability of marijuana through retail sales, but did not advocate a ban.

That didn’t sit well with Pastor Cameron Garcia of Oasis Community Church, which operates an outreach for at-risk youth called The Underground.

“From a youth standpoint, my concerns are that it’s going to make it easier to get marijuana,” Garcia told his colleagues on the coalition. “There’s no sane reason why we shouldn’t issue a position in support of a ban (on retail marijuana) in Sunnyside.”

Garcia added, “Once we open that door, guys, we can’t go back.”

Another coalition member, Samantha Taylor, noted if retail sales are allowed in Sunnyside the vendor will be selected by the state through a lottery. She cautioned that Sunnyside would not have a say in who would obtain the retail license.

Francisco Guerrero, who manages the Sunnyside HAPO Credit Union branch, also sits on the coalition and serves on the Sunnyside City Council. He countered that retail marijuana businesses – just like alcohol and tobacco – are only legal for adults. Marijuana stores, he noted, aren’t intended for teens.

Guerrero also suggested the city could open itself up to litigation if it tries to ban marijuana sales.

That threat already exists, as just last month a smoke shop owner in Grandview indicated he has support from the ACLU and his own legal counsel to take the cities to court if they ban retail marijuana.

The Sunnyside United coalition chair is Steve Carpenter, a former Sunnyside School Board member and CEO of Yakima Chief, a hop-growing and processing firm based in Sunnyside. Like Guerrero, he also was hesitant to support a ban yesterday.

“I don’t have enough facts to say I support an all-out ban on retail sales,” Carpenter told the coalition.

He cautioned against generalized arguments supporting a ban, such as a claim in the draft statement that drug cartels will compete for marijuana sales. Rather, he called not only for more data but also documenting sources.

At Carpenter’s suggestion, coalition members agreed to hold a special luncheon meeting to iron out a position statement and official stance related to retail sales of marijuana in Sunnyside.

That meeting will be noon on Tuesday, April 1, at the Yakima Chief office in Sunnyside, 555 W. South Hill Rd.

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cherrybobeddie 9 months, 1 week ago

I don't like the idea of a preacher like Cameron Garcia telling the rest of us how we should live our lives. If we follow Camerons logic then Sunnyside should ban alcohol, too. Alcohol kills millions of people per year. Cannabis has never killed anyone. None. Cannabis does not cause cirrhosis of the liver like alcohol. It does not cause wife beatings like alcohol. It does not cause fetal-alcohol syndrome. It does not cause cancer of the mouth or throat, like alcohol. "From a youth standpoint, my concerns are that it’s going to make it easier to get marijuana". You don't know that Cameron. You are just spouting off a bunch of unsupported viewpoints as the self appointed protector of youth in this community. If a young person wants marijuana today in Sunnyside they have no trouble finding it. And are all the adults to go without for the sake of the children? Then ban alcohol too, or you are a misinformed narrow minded hypocrite.

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cherrybobeddie 9 months, 1 week ago

Prof. Dirk Korf, a criminologist at the University of Amsterdam, says the Dutch tolerance policy has worked well.

“The clear success is that there is regulated supply to users without having a strong effect on the prevalence on use itself,” he said. “One could be afraid that more people would use cannabis; that has not been the case.”

do some research, Cameron, instead of just spouting viewpoints unsupported by the facts.

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stonies420 9 months ago

I tried to attend this meeting, but the address given was not correct. The nice people at that address did not know the address of the location where it was held. Will this be rescheduled or did this meeting happen without any public input?

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Get_a_Clue 8 months, 3 weeks ago

the city council will have an open meeting on the 28th starting at 6:30 pm. talk is cheap under a fake name. bring yourself to the meeting and voice your view.

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SSathelticsareUGLY 8 months, 1 week ago

open your eyes people... thanks carpenter and guerrero for looking at both sides! marijuanna is so easy to get for our youth right now. This will help it these harder drugs to stop. When you go to get weed from the black market, the drug dealer is trying to sell mollys, pills, cocaine, mushrooms etc. to make more money. and thats why its CONFUSED with being a gateway drug.

now picture this.. go to a store, buy weed, go home and smoke it and tell me if you want to go drink alcohol or even leave the house to support the black market! its a sleep remedy and a stress reliever. it also has proven medical facts

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