The state’s approval of a medical marijuana growing facility for Coal Township is welcome news.
Though the uncertainty of a new industry, and one that is inherently controversial because of marijuana’s illegal status in all forms at the federal level, is of note, there is much to celebrate with Tuesday’s news that Parea BioSciences LLC’s application was accepted for a facility near the new Northumberland County Prison.
• First, Coal Township will become part of a new medical-based industry that is booming in states throughout the country that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. To be involved in the industry in its formative years should pay dividends long-term as it matures.
• Perhaps just as important are the jobs and tax revenue tied to this development, which in its most basic form is something of which we’re in constant pursuit — a new business. A preliminary proposal from Parea was for 24 employees to be hired in the first six months and up to 60 within two years. Those are tentative numbers, but certainly the facility will be hiring employees and paying local taxes.
• An added bonus for this local piece of economic development is the $1.5 million windfall for the county. That’s what the asking price was for the 10-acre parcel of county-owned land and the former Northwestern Academy complex multi-purpose building that sits on it. The county is fortunate to have a buyer for such a secluded parcel of coal/forest property.
• Citing of a medical marijuana growing facility near the prison fits with the goal of a larger continuum of care for the complex, including juvenile rehabilitation through TrueCore and drug and alcohol treatment through Guadenzia. Medical conditions for which marijuana treatment has been approved in Pennsylvania include opioid use disorder for which “conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective.”
Helping to establish the central Susquehanna Valley as part of the medical marijuana industry, Tuesday’s grower permit application winners also include INSA LLC, whose facility will be located near the Panda Hummel Station power plant in Shamokin Dam.
As we argued previously, it may not seem logical to site a marijuana grow facility near a prison, but it’s reasonable when viewed in the larger context of the state’s medical marijuana program. These facilities will operate under stringent regulations that include specific requirements for security.
We shouldn’t think of these facilities as “pot farms,” but as sophisticated producers of a medicinal product — not unlike a pharmaceutical company and the pills it produces. It’s good to have one in our neighborhood.