By Heather Hjorth
“They don’t dress like us – they wear suits and kinda gangsta”
~ a comment from a pot prohibitionist at Tuesday’s meeting in Kittitas County, Washington State, as reported from the Kittitas Cannabis Alliance Facebook Page
[Note: I did wear a suit to the meeting as a show of respect because I planned to address the board. ~ Heather]
A citizen’s board waded through a full agenda before getting to a discussion of proposed changes to zoning laws which could effectively ban cannabis production and processing in Kittitas County, Washington. Unfortunately, rational presentation and identification of relevant issues was precluded by the tone of the evening.
Citizens from SOARS (Save our Agricultural and Rural Spaces) were out in quantity, with an informational board, flyers, signature sheets and stickers for attendees set up outside the armory. SOARS represents a varied group of anti-cannabis activists whose concerns range from economic (Timothy Hay) to moral (remember Reefer Madness?).
Several attendees wearing pro-SOARS stickers were willing to engage in conversation about their concerns and backgrounds. People were passing photos of happy little plants thriving outdoors – legally (for now) – with long term residents seeming pleasantly surprised that the cannabis entrepreneurs didn’t sport horns or a pitchfork. These serendipitous meetings were the highlight of the evening.
One disappointing part of the evening ensued when a pro-cannabis speaker addressed the concerns of the vocal Timothy Hay farmers. The speaker acknowledged their concerns and mentioned a conversation with a regional forage specialist at Eastern Washington University and the development of international connections which could help resolve their differences with the aid of science and data.
Unfortunately, this same speaker was audibly laughed at for the suggestion that cannabis farmers could be good neighbors.
One of the prohibitionists suggested that anti-pot voters should get two votes while each pro-pot voter should get only one vote. I confess I do not remember the reasoning and was too flabbergasted to take notes.
A positive note was the the testimony of T.J. McDonald, a likable Kittitas County resident who spoke about the economic and employment opportunities cannabis was bringing to the county. He has collected well over 100 signatures supporting the cannabis industry in Kittitas.
The citizen advisory group will now deliberate following the closing of Tuesday’s public comment period. Decisions made by the seven-member Planning Commission are recommendations going to the Kittitas County commissioners who will conduct their own hearing on the changes on November 4.
Stay tuned for updates on the cannabis business environment in Kittitas County on the SOARS Facebook page or the Kittitas Cannabis Alliance.
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