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Braddock Council Votes To Approve Medical Marijuana Facility

BRADDOCK (KDKA) -- Braddock Borough Council has voted to approve a plan to build a medical marijuana facility.

Several Mon Valley towns are hoping one of these facilities will set up shop in their communities. McKeesport's Planning Commission also recently approved a company's proposal to build a growing facility at a former industrial site, and the state Department of Health is expected to soon award licenses to companies to operate dispensaries or growing operations.

Now, Braddock, like McKeesport, is hoping to turn one of their sprawling industrial lots into a growing and processing center.

Earlier in the day, the borough's mayor and a Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler joined forces to make a plea for approval.

"This medical marijuana facility and processing plant is ideal for Braddock right here in this spot," said Steelers legend, Franco Harris.

He is part of a new team that is applying to the state to build such a facility in Braddock, which has joined nearby McKeesport in seeking a license to grow.

Harris was joined on site Tuesday by the plan's biggest supporter. Mayor John Fetterman says he believes medical pot and the jobs it brings could pull the struggling town out of distressed status known as Act 47.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan Reports:

"The decline of one industry, steel, dragged us into Act 47 and the emergence of a brand new industry, medical marijuana, could be the thing that brings us out of it," said Fetterman.

But both Braddock and McKeesport will face some stiff competition. The Board of Health has divided the state into six regions and will allow only a limited number of licenses in each.

In the 11-county southwestern corner, for instance, applicants will vie for only two grower/processor permits or one of only five dispensary permits.

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Harris says medical marijuana will bring a new option for pain and relief to people who suffer, including former colleagues in the NFL.

"I'm really looking forward to getting involved in this because of pain management," Harris said.

Fetterman says given Braddock's economic need and its industrial past, he says his town is the best place for it.

"You could put this facility in Wexford or Cranberry, or you could put it in a community like ours and it would literally transform our economic fortunes," Fetterman said.

KDKA's Kym Gable was at the Braddock Borough Council meeting on Tuesday evening where members unanimously approved the land use plan for that facility. Harris was there as well and spoke to a standing-room only crowd that spilled out into the hallway.

Also at the meeting, local eye surgeon Dr. Thierry Verstraeten talked about the relief medical cannabis could provide to suffering patients.

"It is important medicine, climb on board that train since the train is going to be leaving the station with or without us. We'd rather be part of the rationale and science behind it," said Dr. Verstraeten.

The license application now goes on to Harrisburg, where the State Department of Health will approve or deny it.

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