Coal Country Needs Legal Marijuana Just For The Jobs

Ohio is famous for its coal, but the coal industry has been downsized considerably and promises from the Trump administration to restore it have not been fulfilled, at least not yet. In the meantime, for places in Ohio like Meigs County, the underlying problem is that residents need jobs.

Supposedly, Meigs County Gold was a favorite strain of marijuana for the Grateful Dead band and flourishes in the county. Many people in the county are wondering why they could not grow and harvest this particular strain for Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Below, is a transcript between a reporter and Meigs Country officials about why they should consider growing marijuana.

… Meigs County gold is more of a stigma than a brand. For years, locals pushed back on the image that the county was home to stoner legend. But Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith says after the legislation passed, leaders here changed their tune.

RANDY SMITH: If you’re somebody who can’t see the promise in something like this for job creation only, even if that’s the only positive you can see out of it, why would you continue to bring up this legacy of Meigs County gold and tie it to that?

TEBBEN: Last November, Meigs County was chosen by the state to house a medical marijuana growing operation. Smith, a former police officer, and all the county commissioners lobbied for it.

SMITH: This job, unfortunately, does not allow for personal opinion. It’s got to be the 25,000 people that we represent. And these people want to go to work.

TEBBEN: That begrudging support for marijuana is shared by many here. Justin Strekal is with the marijuana advocacy group NORML. He says a 2017 Gallup poll showed increasing diversity of voters approving overall marijuana legislation.

JUSTIN STREKAL: That includes majority – outright majorities of Democrats, independents and, for the first time, Republicans.

TEBBEN: Joe Brumfield is a card-carrying member of NORML. He lives with muscular dystrophy and hates the idea of putting marijuana under state control.

JOE BRUMFIELD: I think it’s going to be expensive. I think it’s going to be hard for people to get access. There’s a lot of people who really did the heavy lifting that are just getting stepped over.

TEBBEN: But for Smith and his fellow commissioners, the chance to capitalize on growing marijuana is just too enticing.

SMITH: Somebody at some point in time has got to put the brakes on the way things are and change them. I’ve got four kids. I’d love to see them have opportunities to stay around here or come back here after college.

There are so many reasons to legalize marijuana, one of the biggest reasons though is that the United States economy is struggling and job creation is probably the key ingredient to fixing it. Is job creation a good enough of a reason to get into the marijuana business?

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