Even with Union Gap on the verge of getting its third marijuana retail store, police say the businesses haven’t put any additional demand on their resources.
“I figured there would be problems,” Union Gap interim Director of Public Safety Greg Cobb said. “But it’s just been fairly normal from the get-go.”
It also hasn’t appeared to increase the number of marijuana DUI arrests in the city. Cobb said there were four such arrests in 2013, and only three so far this year.
Two stores have opened on Main Street since July: Station 420 and Mill Creek Suite A. A third Main Street business named The Slow Burn anticipates opening its doors by Tuesday or Wednesday, owner Ken Weaver said.
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Union Gap, population 6,100, is the only town in Yakima County currently allowing retail marijuana sales.
Cobb said the only police reports filed regarding the stores’ addresses since July have been routine responses, such as traffic stops that weren’t directly related to the businesses.
“It probably has nothing to do with the business, it’s just where the perpetrator chose to pull over,” Cobb said. “There are no calls at any business that would indicate there’s any adverse impact to the city at this point.”
That stands in contrast to some of the fears opponents of the businesses had when the issue of allowing such stores to open was being debated earlier this year. Union Gap City Council members also had trouble making up their minds because of the safety issue, holding three votes in April and May before finally resolving to allow marijuana businesses by a vote of 4-3.
Safe Yakima Valley Executive Director Carmen Mendez, who lobbied government organizations earlier this year to ban marijuana businesses, said it’s too early to say whether the organization’s concerns were unfounded. But Mendez said Safe Yakima Valley isn’t as concerned about adults consuming marijuana products as it is the potential for youth to access the drug.
“I think that’s really good that public safety hasn’t been impacted,” Mendez said. “But I think we’re still in a wait-and-see process to learn how these businesses will impact the community.”
Union Gap is the only city in Yakima County that allows all three types of marijuana businesses: production, processing and retail. Moxee allows production and processing, but not retail, while every other community as well as the county’s unincorporated areas are covered by moratoriums or bans on marijuana businesses.
Weaver, whose license was approved this week, said the lack of police incidents is consistent with what he hears from other marijuana business owners.
“It’s the event that didn’t happen,” Weaver said.
State law requires the businesses to take a number of security measures to ensure their product doesn’t end up in the black market, as well as having to submit themselves and their business partners to background checks. When Weaver’s store opens next week, it will feature no fewer than 32 security cameras, he said.
“They’re on right now,” Weaver said.