High Times by Chris Roberts
Pennsylvania voters didn’t vote for Donald Trump because they were stupid or because they were misogynist; Trump made the residents of the onetime coal-and-steel capital of America a raft of promises they were genetically predisposed from refusing.
Coal would come back, Trump said, and after that—steel would come back! Big league!
He may as well have told Pittsburgh Steelers fans that Terry Bradshaw, Chuck Noll and a younger and less-insane James Harrison were on their way to (long-demolished) Three Rivers Stadium.
Forever-Republicans, like a coal company CEO, don’t believe Trump can keep his coal promise—not with cheap and abundant natural gas gleaned through such happily dangerous methods like fracking—and it would require converting every Walmart in the country into a steel mill, while retaining the retailers’ notorious practices of employing non-union, part-time labor, for the U.S. to match China’s output of cheap steel.
So western Pennsylvania will have to find something else to fill the gap—like marijuana, which is what one famous former Pittsburgh Steeler hopes will revive a former steel town.
Steel is still milled in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb—which is sort of like saying sports are still played in Detroit’s Silverdome. While technically true, it’s fallen a long way. There are now 900 people employed in Braddock’s steel mill, in an area where 90,000 people once worked in steel.
After the American steel industry died in the late 1970s and early 1980s—at the same time the Steelers were winning Super Bowls—Braddock’s population dipped by 90 percent. Of the people left, 40 percent live below the poverty line.
So Braddock needs jobs—any jobs!
It’s not exactly fair or reasonable for economically depressed areas to be perfect candidates for marijuana operations, but such is America. And so, Braddock is where NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris, a key player on those old-school Steelers teams when locals still milled steel, wants to locate a five-acre marijuana production facility.
Harris is co-founder of a nascent cannabis company called Laurel Green Medical. (He is also a former teammate of fellow Hall of Famer Mike Webster, whose descent into early-onset dementia and madness made him possibly football’s most famous concussion casualty.) Laurel Green is one of the companies vying for the 12 production licenses Pennsylvania will award throughout the state.
In interviews with local media, Harris touted what cannabis advocates and most NFL players all know: cannabis can be used as a substitute for the endless opiates NFL players receive.
“Our whole thing is to research and study cannabis and the medicinal benefits of cannabis in pain management, and we think that this will help with the problem of opioids,” Harristold Pittsburgh Action4 News on Tuesday.
Pennsylvania is also one of the states hit hard by the opiate crisis, so the match seems perfect.
Braddock and its mayor, John Fetterman, are all about it.