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Yamashita lobbies against marijuana legalization

If a marijuana legalization initiative appears on the November ballot, it’s safe to say Sandy/Estacada Police Chief Kim Yamashita will be firmly in the “just vote no” corner.

Yamashita expressed her passion on the subject as she spoke to business leaders during an Estacada Chamber of Commerce lunch forum at Hitchin’ Post Pizza on Thursday, June 19.

“I’m fearful of what it will do to our communities,” she said.

Yamashita described medical marijuana as a farce, citing studies that link marijuana use to increased prevalence of mental illness and pointing to increasing levels of THC, the main mind-altering chemical in the plant.

From her police work, Yamashita said most medical marijuana card holders she meets are under age 30 and have been given the card for chronic pain.

She told the crowd about a 25-year-old medical marijuana card holder who lived above a business in downtown Sandy who “smoked all day.”

Downstairs, Yamashita said, employees of the business kept being sent home with migraines and customers were complaining.

“Legally, I can’t do a lot about it,” Yamashita said. “We try to put pressure on the landlord.”

Upstairs, Yamashita said, police discovered the marijuana user had a 2-year-old in the apartment.

“If you look at endangering the welfare of a child statute, there is no crime,” Yamashita said. “But this 2-year-old is now in the most developmentally sensitive time and that brain is now experiencing the chemical reaction changes through that marijuana smoke. Tell me this is a good idea.”

“What’s our work force going to look like in five years if we can’t get up off the couch and go do anything because all we want to do is get high?” Yamashita asked. “Do you want your pilots, your taxi cab drivers, your police officers, your firefighters, your ambulance drivers under the influence? I do not!”

Yamashita went on to describe how difficult it is for police to arrest someone for driving under the influence of marijuana.

An officer must have cause to pull someone over and observe a smell or some other indication that the driver is high.

Then the officer must administer a field sobriety test (more steps are involved if the driver refuses.)

If the field sobriety test is failed, the driver is arrested.

Then the officer must give tests to rule out that the driver is drunk.

Then a drug recognition expert is called in and they come out to give a series of tests to determine what the driver is on.

“All of which the taxpayers are paying for them to come out and do,” Yamashita reminded the audience.

Samples are then taken to a lab for analysis.

Not counting writing the report, all of that takes an officer off the road for about six hours.

Meanwhile, the driver can’t be formally charged until the results are back and could potentially be back on the road.

Yamashita went on to disparage the situation in Colorado, where private recreational marijuana use by adults has been legal since 2012. She said that DUII’s and hospital visits have gone up since legalization.

Yamashita told the crowd that big money from the tobacco industry is behind the push to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Those trying to fight the legislation, Yamashita said, don’t have access to that kind of money.

“It’s going to have to be that grassroots movement to get out the information,” she said.

Throughout her talk,

Yamashita cited the book “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths about Marijuana” by Kevin A. Sabet and the website learnaboutsam.org.

No dissenting opinions were voiced during the Chamber lunch.



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