Recreational marijuana's future in Yakima County debated at hearing

Recreational marijuana's future in Yakima County debated at hearing
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- The future of recreational marijuana has already been decided in much of our region. While places like Ellensburg and Kittitas County are welcoming the production and sale of the drug, the city of Yakima has given a firm no. Now Yakima County is next up to the plate and, as of now, has plans to follow suit with a ban.

Dozens of people showed up Wednesday evening to give their final input.

"It's embracing the fears, it's embracing the black market, it's embracing a lot of youth access," said Mitch Gordon, director of Medical Cannabis Solutions of Central Washington. "I think upholding a ban is just kind of staying with status quo, and status quo hasn't been working out for us."

One major issue brought up in the hearing was making sure that medical marijuana is not included with recreational marijuana in the ban. As of now, the wording in the ban doesn't give a strict separation between the two.

"Without cannabis, I can't, I can't function, I am catatonic, I can't mow my yard, I can't garden, I can't clean the house," said a medical marijuana patient.

Another major concern was that a ban keeps the power in the hands of the black market, which is where kids have easy access to the drug. Sheriff Ken Irwin disagreed with that and says the commissioners are making a responsible decision by drafting a ban.

"First, on the black market, I'm sorry; you're naive to think that this is going to have a big dent in that. All they have to do is undercut the price; the availability will still be there," said Sheriff Irwin.

The Planning Commission will recommend to the commissioners if the ban should be dropped or altered in any way - one of the final factors to determine the drug's future in our county.

The Planning Commission will hold a deliberation meeting based on Wednesday night's testimonies early next month. At that point, they'll give their recommendation to the county commissioners. The commissioners hope to have a final decision on recreational marijuana by the beginning of May.