The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

City meeting on pot shop hears strong views, divided stands among council


Lou Marzeles

STIRRING THE POT:An overflow crowd filled the city council meeting room at city hall Thursday night to discuss I-502.

A hastily arranged special Goldendale city council meeting was held last Thursday ostensibly to report to the council developments on the opening of a marijuana retail outlet. Despite only two days' notice, the meeting drew an overflow crowd and sharp remarks from both supporters of the shop and those opposing it.

City Administrator Larry Bellamy began by providing an historical overview of how the city came to be close to having a pot shop. Discussion among the council members ensued, followed by public comment. The meeting was close to three hours long.

Quinn Plant, an attorney from the Yakima firm of Menkey Jackson and Beyer which represents the City of Goldendale, then spoke to the legal issues involved. He recounted that cities such as Fife had been sued by plaintiffs demanding the right to open a pot shop, and he mentioned the state attorney general's support of the right of municipalities to control marijuana enterprises in their juridictions.

Mayor Clinton Baze voiced his support for the pot shop, planned for locating at 650 Llama Lane, near the intersection of U.S. 97 and Broadway. He mentioned the seeming inevitability of the situation given current Washington State law and a presumed likelihood of expensive litigation against the city if it denied the shop.

Council member Mike Cannon stated his strong opposition to the shop opening; he was the only council member to do so outright. Some of his remarks were ridiculed as he spoke by supporters of the pot shop in the back of the room, making comments such as, "Where's the separation of church and state?" and "Get your morality out of here."

"Where I work, I see people come in drunk or on meth and some who come in on marijuana," said council member Andy Halm in support of the shop. "I'd always rather deal with the pot smokers than the meth heads."

Council member Deanna Luth spoke at some length about the difficulties of navigating the issue. "Sometimes you have to separate your personal feelings from what's best for the city," she said.

Much of the communication among the council members was over details of the proposed shop's application and licensing process. The shop made an application to the state, it was stated, though it cannot obtain a city business license until it meets all the demanding state requirements.

Lou Marzeles

City Administrator Larry Bellamy recounts the history of how a pot shop came to progressing toward opening in Goldendale.

The meeting's public comment time saw a succession of speakers addressing the council on both sides of the issue, though opponents of the shop were considerably more numerous than supporters. Most comments and exchanges were strong but civil, covering multiple aspects of the issue from their respective positions.

The most heated remarks came from Baze, who was asked why there was no clear notice of the shop's progress made to the public. The mayor said there was ample information made available through city council meetings and media reports. The speaker pressed the issue, leading Baze to snap, "What would you like us to do? Do you want us to give everyone a call? Should we knock on every door?" (See related editorial on p. 4.)

No action was taken during the meeting. The next city council meeting is set for Sept. 15.


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