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Position Statement by the Sunnyside Ministerial Association

To: The Sunnyside City Council

We, The Sunnyside Ministerial Association, are asking the Sunnyside City Council to ban retail sales of marijuana within city limits.

We are asking this for the following reasons:

Sunnyside Schools are reporting a 70% increase in marijuana related offenses.

Studies have shown that youth use of marijuana is detrimental to their health and well being. Specifically brain development and IQ.

Studies have shown that youth use of marijuana has an addiction rate of 1 out of every 6 youth who use it.

In the past year, approximately 180 local youth have been referred to Merit for substance abuse.  The primary drug of choice for nearly all was marijuana. 20 youth required inpatient treatment stays of 30 days or more and all treatment costs were paid by taxpayers.

Marijuana is being “normalized” at an alarming rate in our culture. Youth are being led to believe that marijuana use at their age is safe when it clearly is not and increasingly youth are getting marijuana from home or from adult users.

Sunnyside is a very young community, nearly 40% of our population is 18 or younger and we are concerned about the message it sends to our youth by allowing a retail store.

In Matthew 18:6 Jesus states, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

We believe that allowing a retail marijuana store will cause further harm to our youth and ask that the Sunnyside City Council place a ban on retail marijuana stores to prevent this.

Thank you for your consideration,

Tim Pettey, Pastor, First Baptist Church

Dave Hanson, Executive Director, Sunrise Outreach

Regner Capener, Pastor, River Worship Center

Pat Beeman, Pastor, United Methodist Church

Jelmer Groenewold, Pastor, Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church

David Stewart, Associate Pastor, Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church

Larry Mays, Pastor, Sunnyside 7th Day Adventist Church

Bob North, Pastor, Neighborhood Church

Bob Widmann, Pastor, Cornerstone Church

Cameron Garcia, Pastor, Oasis Community Church

Dan Hotchkiss, Pastor, First Christian Church

The Religion That Is Marijuana

Posted: 2nd April 2014 by cameron in Uncategorized
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I had some very interesting conversations today. As many of you know, retail marijuana stores are a hot topic as of late here locally with our city council deciding whether to approve a ban or not. If you know me or the ministry I am blessed to be a part of you know that this is a somewhat personal issue for me as I have participated in drug interventions for both youth and adults.

What I discovered today is that sometimes we really won’t get to have a discussion about facts. There are some pro-marijuana folks who believe in their wonder drug seemingly as much as I believe Jesus to be King. There’s this paradigm out there that refuses to believe it can be anything but good for you, like the long sought after fountain of youth… with weed we are wonderful! World peace will be achieved!

What magical thing do you think will happen now that weed is legal in Washington?

Okay, all sarcasm aside (and there was more than enough says my wife) I’m really struggling with this. It really is not about what you believe. Belief is something that comes into play when talking about God or creation or a religion. When you have study after study that shows marijuana is an addictive substance, it really is not enough to “believe” otherwise. When we have 200 minors locally that have been through either inpatient or outpatient drug treatment because of an addiction to marijuana, it really should not be enough to “believe” marijuana is not addictive. It’s kind of like when driving and the light turns red, even if you somehow convince yourself that the light is green, it’s still factually red. The next time you get stopped for running a red light, try telling the officer that you don’t believe there is a stop light there.

Any thoughts?

Sunnyside and Marijuana

Posted: 25th March 2014 by cameron in Uncategorized
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The city of Sunnyside is considering allowing a retail store that sells marijuana and marijuana related products (baked goods, sports drinks, candy). The Washington state Attorney General has given cities the ability to ban such retail shops.

A recent article in the Daily Sun News (found here) reported that I had asked the Sunnyside United Community Coalition about issuing a statement advocating a ban on a retail pot shop. This is true. I have also approached the Sunnyside Ministerial Association and asked them to do the same. I don’t feel like the article really explained what was discussed or my reasons for supporting a ban so I will explain that here. One of the commenters on the online piece stated that I was the “self appointed protector of youth”. While I’m not sure this would be a bad thing I would like to clarify…

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” -Matthew 18:6

You see, as a Pastor, I have an obligation before God to be concerned about the well-being of our community’s children. As a father myself, I am concerned about the things my kids will be exposed to.

Here is some of the experience I have in working with youth:

  • I am a founding member of the Sunnyside At-Risk Youth Task Force. Initially focused on gang based sex trafficking but has since  been expanded to at-risk youth in general.
  • I am a member of the Sunnyside United Community Coalition which seeks to make Sunnyside a great place for youth to succeed.
  • I am a member of the Sunnyside Gang Free Initiative. I work closely with the two outreach workers we employ in our community and schools. These outreach workers focus on gang/drug/alcohol involved youth. We work to get youth into treatment where it is necessary among other things.
  • I have participated in drug interventions with youth in our community and have seen first hand the destruction addiction has caused in their lives and the lives of those they love.
  • Our church, Oasis Community Church, runs The Underground which is a drop-in center for youth in our community.

Washington state law has made marijuana legal in our state. I’m not sure if I like that or not but I understand that battle is over. It’s legal. I also understand that cities have the right to decide what is best for them and have the right to ban retail pot shops in their communities. I believe strongly that Sunnyside should do this very thing and here is why:

  • Our schools have seen a 70% increase in marijuana use.
  • When youth smoke it, it hurts brain development
  • Marijuana is being normalized. An increasing number of youth are getting pot from home because parents don’t see it as a “big deal” anymore.
  • 1 in 6 youth who smoke it will become addicted to it.
  • Sunnyside has had approximately 180 youth in the past year referred to Merit for substance abuse issues. Primary drug of choice almost unanimously is marijuana.
  • 20 of those youth required inpatient treatment stays of 30-90 days. Know who paid for that? You.
  • Sunnyside has approximately 16,000 residents. 40% of those residents are youth aged 18 and under. That’s 6,000 kids by the way…this is a very young community.

The bottom line is this, if you want to use marijuana and are a legal adult who is going to use it responsibly, go for it. I’d prefer you not to but if you insist, it’s all you. But for those of us that are working with the youth in our community, that have seen first hand the consequences of use by minors, please get over the minor inconvenience of having to buy it some where else. Please don’t pretend it is not a mind altering drug. Please don’t expose our youth to it. Lastly, please ask our city council to ban a retail pot shop…don’t make our youth pay for your drug use.