ShareThis Page
Ralph Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland: Blowing smoke

| Monday, April 30, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

I was just beginning to write this column when eight people in nearby Brentwood Towne Square were being rushed to hospitals after a man, 58, plowed his Dodge Charger into the BoRics salon, injuring himself and seven other people, including customers and hair stylists.

Two of the injured, including the driver, were listed in critical condition.

“Allegheny County homicide detectives are investigating the crash,” reported the Tribune-Review's Natasha Lindstrom, “which they say they believe may be related to the driver having a medical condition or being under the influence of alcohol.”

Within an hour of the breaking news about the accident, I received an email linking the crash to my recent Tribune-Review column — “Can medical marijuana's effects really all be positive?” — in which I expressed some skepticism about the supposed lack of any downside effects associated with the legalization of medical marijuana.

“About the fellow driving through the hair salon tonight in Brentwood,” said the emailer, “it's more likely he was on Yuengling or Jack Daniel's than a marijuana brownie or a medically warranted and state-authorized dose of cannabis.”

Maybe so, but there's still a legitimate debate about the costs and benefits of the state's legalization of medical marijuana and whether the negative societal impacts have been pooh-poohed while the alleged upside effects have been widely trumpeted and overestimated.

The sales pitch, for example, that says a few decriminalized weed-growers are going to be the new Carnegie and Frick who deliver an economic rebirth to the Mon Valley seems a bit like some pot-laced pie in the sky.

“A Pennsylvania town that lost its steel industry 25 years ago hopes a new medical marijuana facility will bring economic revitalization according to a March 12, 2017 article” in a local paper, states a March 13 pro-pot economic development article in MJI News: Marijuana Industry News. “Braddock, Penn., lost its steel industry more than 25 years ago and since has been considered a financially distressed community under Pennsylvania's Act 47. The act requires state oversight of municipalities with substantial financial difficulties.”

With the possibility of a medical-marijuana facility being upbeat news for the town, reports MJI News, “Laurel Green Medical of Sewickley, Penn., wants to obtain one of the two medical marijuana licenses for growing and processing medical pot in the region. If Laurel Green Medical obtains the license, company officials want to build a 100,000-square-foot space in Braddock” that would, at full throttle, “grow 17,000 plants and provide 20,000 pounds of medical marijuana and 3,000 pounds of oil each year, according to Greg Gamet of Denver Consulting Group, which would oversee the growing operation.”

Additionally, reports MJI News, the Braddock pot operation “would employ 40-70 people and bring an estimated $1 million in tax revenue for Braddock.”

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman delivered the official buoyancy and hopefulness with this quote in a local paper: “The demise of one industry, steel, put us in Act 47 and a new industry, medical marijuana, could pull us out of Act 47.”

As Bill Clinton said about marijuana, “I didn't inhale it, and never tried it again.”

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me