Bad Idea

Marijuana legalization not needed in W.Va.

Remember the old days — well, not so long ago, actually — when the hot ticket for politicians was to claim they would revitalize the Ohio Valley steel industry?

Now, it seems, the idea is that claiming to have ways to help the state’s coal industry rebound will translate to success at the polls. All sorts of ideas have been aired.

Here’s one about which we should forget: Legalizing marijuana in West Virginia could give the coal industry a shot in the arm, House of Delegates member Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, believes.

At their own expense, 22 Mountain State residents traveled to Colorado recently, to investigate that state’s marijuana industry. The Rocky Mountain State is among several that have legalized cannabis for recreational use. It has become a $3.1 billion-a-year industry in Colorado.

“Cannabis is good for the coal industry,” Fluharty told our reporter. He explained growing and processing marijuana requires a substantial amount of electricity. That could produce more demand for coal at power plants.

Maybe so, though we doubt many coal companies would bank on it.

But state officials continue to struggle with rules for medicinal use of marijuana. Some fear legalizing the drug could add to the state’s substance abuse crisis.

Only after a medicinal marijuana process is launched successfully — we hope — should there be any talk of legalizing the drug for recreational use. Even then, the bottom line has to be the public’s health and safety, not benefits to our economy.