Can cannabis research save Pa’s struggling, post-industrial towns? | Monday Morning Coffee

April 22, 2019 7:00 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
We’ve been hearing a lot of arguments this year for legalizing recreational cannabis.

Criminal justice reformers see it as a way to end barriers to employment for users who have been pinched for enjoying the herb every now and again. Medical advocates see already legalized medical marijuana as a ticket to pain relief for any number of maladies. And then, of course, there’s the salutary benefit that legalized weed could have on the state’s bottom line.

And as our new friends at POSTINDUSTRIAL point out, there’s a chance that marijuana research could be an economic savior for such Pennsylvania towns as Farrell, Pa., in Mercer County, which is still trying to rebound from more than 30 years under state oversight.


“On the site of the former Sharon Steel Corp., FarmaceuticalRX has a cultivation center and laboratory as part of a sweeping plan to research cannabis. Company officials hope their effort will help rebuild the region and this slip of a town, which in February emerged from a state program for financially distressed municipalities after more than 30 years — longer than any other community in Pennsylvania.“’The whole model is to replace industries of the past with industries of the future,’ said Rebecca Myers, founder and CEO of FarmaceuticalRX.

“Myers said the company was thoughtful when it selected a location. “We are taking these old industrial buildings, and we are cleaning them and repurposing them into a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical business.”

Granted, the federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance, but that hasn’t stopped “a burgeoning industry with a high cost of entry. In Pennsylvania, grower-processor license applications alone required proof of $2 million in capital and a $10,000 fee,” POSTINDUSTRIAL reports.

And if that means that such small communities as Farrell are elevated as a result of this booming industry, the community’s mayor says she’s just fine with it.

““It was time to come out,” three-term Mayor Olive McKeithan told the online news org. “Farrell has such a stigma and that stigma needed to be lifted.”

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket, we reveal how much you need to earn to afford a home in each of America’s large metro areas. And, as it turns out, Pittsburgh is a downright steal.
Stephen Caruso looks at an effort to undo the privatization of a bus rides program for Medicaid recipients.
Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender profiles U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, who achieved some Twitter notoriety the other week for trolling Trump White House aide Stephen Miller.
And in a story you won’t read anywhere else, an undocumented immigrant from Allentown tells his tale and calls on Congress to step up to protect the Dreamers.

On the Opinion side of the house, this unique mapping effort shows where air pollution hurts U.S. children the most.

The Inquirer has its voters guide to the 2019 Philly mayor and council primary races
Pennsylvania’s population is flattening out, but central Pennsylvania is a growth area, PennLive reports.
Pittsburgh’s young activists share their stories with the Post-Gazette.
Pittsburgh officials are working to preserve a historic mural in a tunnel under Bigelow Boulevard, The Tribune-Review reports.

Here’s your very dramatic #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

State officials are investigating the largest marijuana dispensary permit holder, The Morning Call reports.
Current Philly Mayor Jim Kenney is being criticized for ‘spurning a vendor’ with ties to former Mayor John Street and what that means for the cleanliness of City Hall, BillyPennreports.
Today is Earth Day 2019. The Incline has a guide to how Pittsburghers can celebrate it every day.
PoliticsPA has last week’s Winners & Losers in state politics.
Politico asks whether authenticity really needs to matter in our politics.
The U.S. House will get its say as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a citizenship question on the Census, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate are both out of voting session until April 29.
The House Democratic Policy Committee meets in Springfield Twp. for a 2 p.m. hearing.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
and First Lady Frances Wolf hold an Earth Day observance at the Governor’s Residence on Second Street. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Bibio, it’s ‘A tout a l’Heure.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Boston got past Toronto 4-2 on Sunday, tying their Eastern Conference playoff series.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.