Open mic discussion on marijuana provides citizens with opportunity to voice opinions

Chace Davy, Assistant News Editor

The Kittitas County Commissioner elections are coming soon and candidates Obie O’Brien and Steve Verhey are trying their best to win over the last few voters that may be undecided.

Verhey held an informal meeting at the Hal Holmes Center on Wednesday night to try and get a better grasp on what the people of the county thought about the current implementation of Initiative 502 in Kittitas County.

With the opinions presented at this meeting in an open-mic format, Verhey hopes to provide a way to grow cannabis in the county that will please as many people as possible.

Many of the people that came to the meeting protested the fact that cannabis was being grown in the county at all, citing that the Timothy Hay product that is known worldwide would be destroyed when foreign buyers find out that there is cannabis grown in the same area.

Other attendees cited that allowing cannabis growers in Kittitas county would bring more crime in to the area, claiming that crime has increased in Colorado once cannabis was legalized there.

One woman passionately argued that cannabis should be illegal again, using the adage that selling and growing legal recreational cannabis would “destroy everything we’ve worked to create in this valley.”

As of right now, people that want to grow cannabis are primarily confined to AG 20 zones, or zones designated for agriculture that are 20 acres in size.

Neither Verhey or O’Brien consider having cannabis in the county as a necessarily bad thing, although Verhey has stated that he “is open to having his mind changed, if I hear the right argument.”

With such a polarizing topic set as one of the mainstays of this year’s commissioner race, it’s hard to tell what the outcome of the upcoming vote is going to be. Both candidates think that they have a valid shot of winning this year.

In the last District 3 election, Verhey lost by approximately 3,000 votes.