City Says It Will Go To Court To Block Pot Facility

Hermiston vs. Marijuana
Jenifer Valley of Stoney Girl Gardens Foundation listens as Hermiston City Councilor Manuel Gutierrez explains his opposition to the group's plans to open a medical marijuana facility in downtown Hermiston.

The Hermiston City Council met in executive session Monday night to discuss their options regarding a proposed medical marijuana facility in downtown Main Street.

Following the executive session, the council voted to seek an injunction in Umatilla County Circuit Court if the facility does begin operations in Hermiston.

The vote came after a visit to Hermiston – and Monday’s council meeting – by representatives from a group out of Happy Valley called Stoney Girl Gardens Foundation. One of its representatives, Mike Mullins, told the council it would be opening a facility that sells medical marijuana at 672 E. Main St. The facility will be called Columbia Basin Compassion Center.

Mullins said the facility would be membership-based and not open to the public, meaning it would only sell medical marijuana to licensed patients. Mullins touted the medical benefits of marijuana and noted that state laws were changing quickly.

Mullins was asked by Councilor George Anderson if marijuana was classified as an illegal narcotic by the federal government. When Mullins acknowledged that it was, Anderson replied, “Thank you. That’s all I need to know.”

Mullins responded by noting that the U.S. Justice Department has made it clear that it does not intend to interfere with medical marijuana facilities or shops in Colorado and – later this summer – Washington.

Councilor Manuel Gutierrez said he has seen the damage done and the lives lost because of illegal drugs and stated several times that he would oppose any effort to open a medical marijuana facility in Hermiston.

“What message are we sending to the kids if we open a marijuana store?” he asked.

It’s not clear when Stoney Girl Gardens Foundation will actually open a shop in town. Mullins informed the council that the group would apply for a medical marijuana operating license on March 3. He told the council that he hoped to work with the city on all issues related to opening the store, including compliance, security, zoning and others.

The city council, however, made it clear that it has no intention of working with Mullins’ group. Instead, the council will wait to see if the facility opens and once it has evidence that it is dispensing medical marijuana, it will seek a court injunction in circuit court to stop the facility from operating in Hermiston.

Mullins said Stoney Girl Gardens have helped open medical marijuana facilities in more than 50 cities including Salem, Portland, Milwaukie, Ashland, Bend, Ontario and Astoria.

In other council news Monday night:

• The council approved a street closure request from the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce for Funfest on July 11-12. Main Street from Highway 395 to E. Fourth Street and E. Second Street and E. Third Street from Gladys Avenue to Hurlburt Avenue will be closed from 5 p.m. July 11 to 6 p.m. on July 12.

• Approved an on-premises liquor license for El Gran Chaparral, 305 S.W. 11th St.

• Approved an off-premises liquor license for La Mexicana on 135 E. Cornell Place.

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