Are you tired of talking about Marijuana?  I have to admit I finally am!  I have written thousands of word about it and the council will vote this week whether or not to ban recreational grow/package and sales operations in city limits.  I gave made the case for it a zillion? times but I got drawn into what I hope will be one last conversation in the posted comments to the article in the Yakima Herald Republic about the Attorney General's opinion on the legal status of city bans.

He is a little challenging in his approach and then he chides me for snide remarks and wants an adult conversation.  I admit to snidely-ness  but only to those who are snidely first! (like the sheriff said...I only shot those what deserved it and I always let them draw first!)

The individuals name is Josh Denny and he has some common and valid questions that I went to great length to answer.

Ok Josh, let’s have an adult conversation…you make a point and I will address it, stay on point, be respectful, stick to the facts, and you do the same ok?

Let’s start with what you have posted so far.

JOSH writes “So your going to waste millions of dollars by getting sued, and resist a law that the voters of washington state passed? That is some poumpus thinking to say the least. “

So to start our interaction you make a serious charge of financial irresponsibility and you insult our thinking process as pompous.  That’s where we start this adult conversation?  That doesn’t feel adult to me but we'll press on.

You are assuming we will be sued and it will cost millions.  Based on what?  Anybody can sue on just about anything.  The city is sued almost every day so I can’t say we won’t be sued…heck we are being sued right now by the ACLU, but in this case the Attorney General, the state’s top law interpreter, says we have the legal right,  our city lawyers say we have the legal right to ban pot grow/package/sales.  These guys are conservative operators and are professionally responsible for minimizing the city’s risk.  This isn’t a half baked approach.  It is well thought through and there are very real legal principles at play.   This will shut down most legal challenges.

We are exercising our legal right on behalf of the majority of our voters.  That’s our job.  We were elected to do that and city legal staff is paid to do it.  If you were in the local majority on this issue you would want the city to go to bat for you too.

You called it pompous thinking.  That seems like a bit of an insult.  I don’t know what your definition of pompous is but a general definition is overly self important…this couldn’t be farther from that.  This isn’t about me or the council, we don’t think we are better, smarter more important than anyone else… it’s about the importance of serving the majority of voters who don’t want pot in Yakima.

We wouldn’t be having this conversation if I-502 passed in Yakima.  It might be pompous if the voters wanted it and council still tried to stop it.  But even that is happening too…Pierce county PASSED I- 502 with 54% but the commissioners there are pursuing a ban because of the RISK to the local/federal partnerships and the potential loss of federal grants, contracts, etc.

JOSH writes “Yakima already has cash flow problems and you are going to waste money on having to have a lawyer defend Yakima? Makes a lot of sense.”

Yakima has a balance budget, more in reserves than in decades, NO cash flow problems and is on solid financial footing.  The budget and five year financial plan is online for your examination.  SO you are not stating the truth, you are charging financial irresponsibility again -without demonstrating accurate knowledge of city finance and without any substantiation  and you conclude with sarcasm -makes a lot of sense.

So are we off and running on an adult conversation so far?  In your next post you proclaim there will be a lawsuit and we will lose...without any legal argument or principle to back that up.  You also accuse me of failing my city.  Let’s pick it up there.

JOSH writes“ It is my understanding that the AG is not the final word by any means. This will result in a lawsuit, and I'm pretty sure it is the tax payers that will lose. You are failing your city, as well as our county out of a lot of sales tax revenue. “

Josh, not having the responsibility of being elected to serve you have the luxury of being able to operate on the level of “being pretty sure” about things without having to back it up.  We can’t.  Our job is to weigh and minimize risk with taxpayer money.  We don’t take the threat of lawsuits lightly.  We are confident in our legal position.  If you are a lawyer, now would be a good time to bring that up to add addition credibility to your opinion.

You say we will miss out on a “lot of sales tax revenue”.  For the sake of an adult conversation--Any idea how much?  We need hard data before we can ascribe the degree of potential loss.    But whatever the amount is, it isn’t important enough to the majority of voters to have them vote for marijuana.  I will assume there are some things you won’t do for money…Yakima’s voters said we don’t care about that kind of money or those jobs…we still say NO to marijuana.  The voters made an informed choice and council working for them on that behalf isn’t failing them.  We fail them if we fail to impose the ban.

You go on to say…

JOSH writes " Marijuana is the number one cash crop in Washington State, as well as the nation. Did the police "expert" bring that up?” (referring to another conversation)

I don’t believe the officer brought that up but it while that may be true, is isn’t germane to this conversation.   The alleged growing national acceptance, the value of black market weed, it’s purported isolated medical potential etc., while significant to the national conversation that may eventually influence the federal re-designation of marijuana, none of that trumps the Yakima local voters desire for their city , right now, to ban the grow/package/sale aspect of I-502.

You reference us as  crusaders and accuse a violation of rights for the gain of the few and a you charge tyranny.  Wow. Those would seem to be conclusions reached without you having the benefit of a give and take conversation first but that’s ok, we are having one now, right?

JOSH writes “Also the law is to provide safe access to draw down the illicit market. Your stance can be challenged. It's too bad that the "crusader" mentality is going to cost the people that you represent, as if recovering from an economic crisis isn't enough. Furthermore, i did not vote for this law, but this was not a county initiative. It was a state one. That is where I feel you (city council) are violating the rights of the people, for the gain of the few. That's called tyranny, and it can even occur at the local level it seems.”

Street pot is here now and with 502 there will probably be a drawn down of street pot but not an elimination.  Our police and gang experts say the gangs and cartels won’t go legit because of the limited scope of 502.  They also say it is likely to increase the amount of marijuana in the community and increasing the risk of exposure to kids.  That is a serious concern.  They also are concerned about more dui’s and additional law enforcement problems associated the marijuana.

And while we're at it let's  clarify a “crusader”.  I’m not sure what you mean but if we accept the idea of a crusade as it references a holy war or an ideal driven battle I can say this…you have it exactly backwards.   I can’t speak for the other three council members who voted for a pot ban but I can see a crusade approach with myself…but the crusade is not against pot but it is FOR the voters.  My crusade is to represent the will of 56% of the voters.

Finally you say we are violating the rights of the many (statewide pot supporters) for the gain of the few (local no pot voters) and this, to you, equates with tyranny.  And I agree with you in concept…but I totally disagree with you in execution.

Local land use rights are supreme and nothing in I-502  changes that. The liquor control board set a maximum number of locations…in other words they presented a limited opportunity, not a minimum requirement.   Local jurisdictions exercising their right to direct land use on behalf the majority of their citizens is not a violation of others rights but a true representation on behalf of their rights.  The only way Tyranny enters in is if the state and Seattle pot smokers have a right to tell Yakima non pot smokers what kind of businesses they have to have in their city.  Now THAT would be Tyranny.

Now to your final post which launched this  through, detailed, point by point one half of conversation…I trust you will reply in kind. (and  with something more than raw opinion or presumptions if we are to call this an adult conversation)  You write…

JOSH writes“ Lawsuits cost money. The I win I win flag banter is pretty beneath an adult if you ask me .It's actually sort of entertaining, but not in a positive way. “

Lawsuits do cost money, we have budget for a legal team standing by to fight them if necessary…and in this “sue happy” society it is sadly a part of doing business as a city.  We do avoid them if at all possible but when we believe our legal standing is solid -as in this case- we take a stand for our citizens.  I’m not sure what you mean by the “I win I win banter”…

I may be totally wrong with what you are trying to say but I will venture a guess with this…If I’m wrong feel free to ignore  …an election and its consequences are a win or lose proposition.  Not right or wrong, Not good or bad but win or lose.  Pro pot won a statewide vote.  Yakima lost.  Upon closer examination it turns out the details of I-502 don’t  outrank local land use issues …so ultimately cities like Yakima can win by the right to control what goes on within their own borders.  That is “we win”.

Don’t let your opposition to the city argument color your interpretation of my responses to some other very “taxing” individuals in this thread.  In conversations here I am always an adult first…second…third and then when that fails to achieve a more socially civilized result,  I’ll play by whatever rules the other folks chose to use.  Youare new and have happened to have jumped in on some long running and degenerated conversations.

JOSH writes "Way to put me in my place. I've read about everything I can get my hands on pertaining to this whole mess of a law. So to say I'm clearly uninformed is just not true.”

Ok Josh, I apologize for saying you were uniformed….it’s just that none of your answers have articulated ANY of the center points of GMA, land use, city rights and the potential risk/cost with a city/federal conflict over grants, contracts, etc. Millions could be at stake there.   Give me a sentence or two on those topics to demonstrate that you understand the other side of the argument and I will feel confident that our conversation is based on a full mutual understanding but simple individual disagreement.  When you talk -tyranny, crusader, violating rights…none of that speaks to being informed so set me straight.

JOSH writes "It's funny how you are supposed to be a community leader, but your words dictate otherwise. Your snide remarks to anyone who challenges your thought is great. You are using a vague technicality that hasn't been challenged in court yet to basically say no to jobs."

I don’t know what your definition of a leader is but I can give you mine.  We may still disagree but at least you’ll know.   A leader is someone who will honor the will the people who elected him, someone who will care enough about his responsibility that he will find a way to challenge the local critics, the entire state and the aclu if necessary to deliver on their will.  A leader listens … he is someone who will go the extra mile to explain his points and position but won’t be insulted or bullied in the process.  I hate bullies.  He will stand up for himself like he stands up for the people he represents.

You just joined this conversation….if you want a clearer understanding go back over the past few months of interaction with the same players here.  See where the snide and snarky first started and how it has come down to this….even look at your first comments to me.   I will respond in whatever manner you want.  If you are snarky and exaggerated, I can be as well.

And look at what you say here…”you are using a vague technicality”  …Seriously? You are taking about the opinion of the state Attorney General…jurisdictions all across the state including Yakima County having been on edge waiting for that opinion to guide their actions and you simply dismiss it as a vague technicality?  Again, where is your legal background and experience that can underpin any credibility for that comment? Adult conversations require that you back things up or else we can just both throw out ridiculous statements and opinions and pretended we actually had a conversation.  Opinion is one thing…all are entitled to them…but having your opinion taken seriously is another.

JOSH writes" Remember I voted like you. I thought that the wording was poorly written and vague at best. However, I think the statement "Cash crop status doesn't matter, Jobs don't matter, sales tax doesn't matter to the discussion...all that matters is the majority said no for whatever reason. Move on. " is the reason why I am raising concern to your mentality.  This is a seriously poor county. We lack in almost every county comparison. Yakima is the county head where most of the people reside. Jobs matter. People who want to start a legal enterprise matter. Easing the legal load on our law enforcement matters. Maybe you just don't care about people who don't think exactly like you. Who knows?"

I know we are a poor county, I know we need jobs, I know we need entrapenures, I know cops need a break.  I won’t bore you with all the things I have done on council for four years to help in all those areas.  But what I also won’t do is go to the majority of Yakima voters…the majority… and say to them---I question your mentality.   They all know what you know and they STILL said no to marijuana in Yakima.  They looked at the poverty, and unemployment and crime and funding and in the face of all that motivation, a MAJORITY of Yakima voters said, sure, all that’s important--but-- NOT important enough for me to vote in favor of pot.  How do you argue with that?

This isn’t about me…this is about them. This is about finding a legal way to honor that majority opinion against pot. And we believe we found it.   I care what you think, I care what the 44% who voted FOR I-502 thinks. I hope to serve them all.  But as I said before --elections are a win/lose proposition and this time, the no-on-pot-people won in Yakima .

JOSH writes "Your whole argument of this is a red blue thing is just so flawed, when both democrats and republicans practice the same antics. Your both the same."

All I said was I was happy that the Yakima majority voted didn’t have to be negated by the liberal Westside majority.  Like it or not we are a conservative majority in Yakima.  Yakima’s votes on statewide candidates and issues are almost always undone by the different philosophy of the west.  It was an observation and a reflection of the many past frustrations of Yakima’s voters.  Stay on topic if you would please.  We aren’t talking about changing a political system, just effectively operating within the current system.

You can go out and claim left and right are the same, (a discussion for another time) you can try to challenge or re-educate the voters, try to change or modernize their values, whatever. That’s your job as a passionate person.  My job is to represent them just as they are.

If they don’t want pot jobs, pot money, pot opportunity, it’s their call.  If I disagree with voters, I can try to convince them, present more info, clarify, try to win hearts and minds, but if in the end I can’t, I must either suck it up and get on with representing them as they are or resign my elected position.

With all due respect, your next comments demonstrate some naiveté …all laws should stand as passed?  You wrote…

JOSH writes"I just think if the people bring a law to be, It should be. Not opted out of because the city council thought is everyone is all the sudden going to become hippy liberals. All you are going to do is keep encouraging illicit activity, something the city of Yakima cannot shake from it's reputation as it is."

All laws should be?  Laws come and go all the time.  Please consider this--Washington D.C. and Chicago passed laws banning guns.  Over the years thousands of people have been slaughtered by guns in those cities because the bad guys had guns and the law abiding victims didn’t.  Both laws have ultimately been found to be unconstitutional and thrown out…and interestingly, early on,  law abiding people were buying guns in Chicago at twice the rate they were signing up for Obamacare.  The point is, not all laws “should be”  That is too simple of an approach.

Again your comment about the council and thoughts of “hippy liberals” would indicate that you, sorry to say it, aren’t informed on the basics of the motivation and council action.  Council isn’t concerned in the least about people becoming hippy liberals.  Council is concerned with honoring the majority will of those who don’t want pot.  Maybe the 56% is worried about hippies …I don’t know, I just know they said no to pot. They elected me, I work for them--and for all - but-  this time they have the numbers and get things their way…this time.

You made a statement…now let’s see you defend it….” All you are going to do is keep encouraging illicit activity,”  How? It’s here now. It is unclear what the store price vs street price will be, but in order for the state to get its triple tax money...something gangs don’t charge …it is going to be expensive.  Check with Colorado.  High priced store weed could keep street gangs in business as lower priced competition.  The answer you seek is to change the FEDERAL listing of marijuana. Then conservative communities like Yakima will have no choice (tyranny?) to go along.  Unless of course there are provisions for dry communities like there are for those communities where the majority of voters don’t want alcohol.

JOSH writes "Cannabis needs to be regulated and kept away from kids. We need to disassemble the black market if it takes forever, it is a burden on all of our safety. I do appreciate that you are an engaged politician, and appreciate that you feel the need to support your side. However, you are an elected official and maybe could do it with more taste. Thanks for listening."

At last we can agree…Keep it away from kids. BUT.

Kids have access now on the street. Street weed isn’t going away as long as it’s against federal law so kids will still have street access and maybe even “low priced weekend specials”  to draw more business to make up for the loss in adult trade.  Now those adults, what will they do with their legal weed? Keep it hidden under lock and key?  Why should they, afterall it’s legal.

Question-Any kids steal dad’s legal booze from home?  Any kids steal dad’s legal prescription drugs from home--so much so that prescription overdose is more of a problem for kids than coke and heroin combined.  If you are a kid and you want start using pot but you don’t want to buy from the street banger, or the captain of the football team, and you can’t steal from dad because he hasn’t gone all hippy liberal yet,  isn’t it easier to break in to Wally’s house next door and steal his now that he is a legal user?

So I guess what I’m saying is that would like a little more detail from you on how a limited number of pot stores offering 80,000 metric tons of pot is going to stop illicit activity?

And I encourage you to talk to law enforcement.  The newest council member is a lifelong cop and he is concerned about the problems of legal pot, so is the chief of police and more.   And we haven’t even gotten into the “does it cause harm” argument.

Thanks for the acknowledgement of me being an engaged politician (I prefer the word “Representative”) but it’s more than feeling the need to support my side, it’s the purpose for the job in the first place.  I either represent or I get out and let someone else with views more in line with the majority be elected into office.

Last question…if you wanted to move into Yakima and run against me for office and out on the campaign trail you said “I’m all for pot and the jobs, tax money, etc” . And I said “I serve the will of the people and you spoke loud and clear on 502…no pot stores in Yakima until federal law changes”.  Do you think you would be elected today?  I’m guessing you wouldn’t. Not because you aren’t a great guy, with vision, and a good heart and a handle on the problems and challenges and a love for serving his community….but because your views on pot are different (not right or wrong but different) from the values of the majority of voters --and it takes a majority to win.

I know it seems backwards given the statewide vote but on the subject of pot--the no that failed actually wins.  If you read all the thread posted on the YHR site you saw where I said I-502 SHOULD have been written to read --vote yes and you can legally be in possession of up to an ounce and you can smoke it at home legally if you want -AND- you can apply to grow/package/retail  -IF-  you live in a community willing to allow land use activity that is in violation of federal law.  That’s what in essence passed as I-502..

Finally, I trust this response has been tasteful and adult enough.  Review how you approached me and see if you didn’t contribute to a lowering of the bar.  Go back and see the long standing and ridiculous conversations that have wore out the first layer of civility.  The concept of "give respect to get respect" here has died and long been buried but it doesn’t have to be that way between us.  I’m always willing to have an adult conversation any time.  Your turn.

OK...if you have hung in here this long you deserve a t-shirt.  Send me an email to: with your name and number and we'll hook you up!