People will talk: Be ready for wide ‘societal debate’ during narrow ‘pot’ deliberation

Hood River Mayor Arthur Babitz spoke Monday of the “societal debate” that is likely to come from any future discussion of marijuana dispensary registration that comes before City Council.

In Cascade Locks, the City Council moved one step closer than Hood River toward taking a vote on whether or not to enact a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

It’s a complex issue (see page A1 article) and the vagueness of some parts of the new state law allowing dispensaries does not help jurisdictions’ efforts to make sense of it all.

Combine the legal labyrinth with the fact that the use of marijuana is a true hot-button issue, especially with its legalization just across the river from us in Washington state.

Legalization, let alone decriminalization, is likely to always remain a divisive issue, no matter where you stand on the science behind marijuana and its impacts.

“I want to draw a line. There are some things I don’t want my kids to mess around with. There are some things I don’t want in my society,” Joella Dethman of the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families told Hood River council Monday. Her initial purpose in speaking to the council was to advocate for alignment of rules and regulations for dispensaries once they are in place, for the county and the cities of Hood River and Cascade Locks.

But Dethman also pleaded the case against the existence of the narcotic for any reason.

“We set rules on what we want and don’t want. We have more mental health issues, more poverty, more unrest in general in our society. If we don’t take a look at what effects we have now on the next generation I think we’re remiss.”

Dethman comes from a place of experience and knowledge of how substances affect communities. The fact that she felt compelled to address legal acceptance at the same time she decried marijuana’s very existence points to the “societal debate” conundrum facing the two cities and the county as they put the topic on their respective agendas.

Just as people can’t resist praising or vilifying certain big box merchants in a hearing that officially is limited to a narrow zoning or permitting scope, so will marijuana supporters and opponents be generally unable to avoid speaking in a public meeting about the limited topic of a moratorium versus their beliefs about the values or ills of marijuana.

Some people will want to say that marijuana should be outlawed in every case. Others will argue on behalf of medical availability while still others will use the opportunity to speak for public acceptance of decriminalization and for allowing “recreational” use. None of this has anything to do with the question of whether or not to pass moratoriums locally.

However, given that the jurisdictions are talking in an official way about marijuana for the first time in memory, it’s probably a good idea for the three elected bodies to grant people voices that go off-topic. Let it out now. And people of all opinions should be ready to listen. It will be healthier in the long run.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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