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Medical Marijuana Seen By Some As Successor To Steel In Western Pa.

BRADDOCK (KDKA) -- When the steel jobs left the Mon Valley, towns like Braddock fell into decline.

Mayor John Fetterman believes that marijuana may help turn things around.

"It would be a real game changer here in town if we were able to secure the facility," he said.

The town and group of private investors, including Steeler great Franco Harris, are vying for a state license to build a medical marijuana growing facility on a vacant lot.

Fetterman says it would be a godsend.

"We have the ability as a community to take a giant step forward to have this facility here in town," he said.

Last month, McKeesport's planning commission threw its support behind a company who wants to put a medical marijuana growing center on this former industrial site.

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"It's something that's been approved by the state of Pennsylvania and time moves forward," Fetterman said.

But both Braddock and McKeesport will face some stiff competition.

The Pennsylvania Health Department has divided the state into six regions and will allow only a limited number of licenses in each.

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

Fetterman believes that the Mon Valley's economic woes, industrial past and community support make it the perfect place for both marijuana facilities.

"There are two licenses for southwestern Pennsylvania and I think it's whole appropriate that two communities that need this economic shot in the arm would be the ones that got the licenses," he said.

In terms of jobs, medical marijuana will not replace steel. At the most, grow labs will employ 50 to 70 people, but Braddock Council is expected to support the proposal in a vote tomorrow night.

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