WENATCHEE — After silently listening to testimony from people about how safe and harmless marijuana is to use, Wenatchee City Councilman Keith Huffaker couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
He said he hadn’t intended to bring up his stepson at Thursday’s council discussion about whether marijuana businesses should be allowed in the city. He had planned to talk about federal law, and the need to wait for marijuana to be legalized at the federal level.
His unplanned comment about his deceased stepson were brief, but powerful, and at least one marijuana business supporter believes it swayed the council to reject pot businesses.
“I raised a son who was an addict, and he’s no longer with us because he couldn’t handle his addiction,” Huffaker said at the council meeting before the vote.
Huffaker’s 23-year-old stepson, Court Donovan Haugen, died in 2009 soon after completing a military tour in Iraq when he was hit by a train in Germany. The family today said that Haugen was not under the influence of drugs when he was struck by the train.
After the council meeting, Huffaker explained that Haugen’s death was a direct result of his drug addiction. He said marijuana was a gateway drug for him.
Businessman Mark McCants, who wants to open a marijuana retail shop in Wenatchee, said he believes Huffaker’s testimony was key to the council’s decision. But, he said, Huffaker should have better explained what his stepson was addicted to at the time of his death.
“I doubt it was marijuana,” he said. “Marijuana doesn’t make you do things like that.”
“The gentleman with the addicted kid got ‘em,” he said. “How do you beat that?”