An unprecedented number of area residents addressed Delta City Council on the issue of marijuana, input that was welcomed by council members who said they wished citizens were equally outspoken on a broader range of topics.
The issue of marijuana came to the forefront of the Sept. 4 meeting, where council members considered four marijuana questions for the November ballot. The first asks voters if retail marijuana sales should be allowed in the City of Delta. The second addresses medical marijuana sales. The third concerns marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and marijuana transport. The fourth question would allow those same endeavors only for medical marijuana.
Each of the four questions was approved 3-2, with Ron Austin and Gerald Roberts casting "no" votes four consecutive times.
Of the 14 individuals who spoke, five supported marijuana sales in the City of Delta; the other nine expressed concerns about the impacts on the city and its children.
Hartland Clubb Jr. said marijuana establishments would reflect poorly on the family values for which Delta is known.
Orval Proctor said the city's voters were "tricked" in April when they were asked to consider taxing the sale of marijuana. Some council members point to the 61 percent of the city's voters who supported that measure, saying that indicates support for marijuana sales.
"The passing of the taxation initiative was not nor should it be considered by this council as a mandate for marijuana in our community," Mayor Ron Austin said in a prepared statement he read at the meeting.
A majority of the individuals who addressed council are not residents of the city, and so will not be able to vote on the four questions, but said they, their children and their grandchildren, will all be impacted. Opponents again brought children into the conversation with direct references to the families of the three council members -- Kevin Carlson, Nathan Clay and Christopher Ryan -- who voted to take the issue to the voters.
Ryan said he does not support the use of marijuana, and he is raising his children with that viewpoint. "However, I do not stand behind this B.S. that government shall mandate what we may or may not do individually," he said. "I think that each and every one of you in this room is able to go out and do the research to determine what is appropriate for you, and for your family and for your community.
"Please quit underestimating yourselves and your neighbors. Educate yourselves and do what's right for you."
If voters approve any of the four marijuana ballot questions, city attorney David McConaughy said marijuana establishments will not be "springing up overnight." Council will have to implement licensing requirements similar to those in place for the sale of alcohol. Council may also consider a cap on the number of establishments that would be allowed to operate in the city, and define where those establishments may be located.