BEYOND/HELLO, a retail chain owned by Jushi Holdings (JUSHF.Q) opened two dispensaries, bringing jobs to Scranton and Johnston, PA, after getting the nod from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Scranton’s got a lot of the same problems in common with smaller cities in the United States and Canada. It’s an old coal and steel town that dried up when those two commodities went out of vogue, and has been on permanent life support courtesy of its tourism, call centres and other occupational traps of the post-industrial era. Now there’s weed dispensaries, and while it’s not exactly going to bring back Scranton’s boom-time, it’s better than wasting your life at another soul-sucking call centre.

I packed in what felt like six months into one weekend in Scranton, PA, in the early oughts, and can personally attest there is nothing for anyone under 40 to do there except get high. Wikipedia reports that the city’s turned itself around since then, having introduced cafes and restaurants, two hotels and some tourist traps to go with their minor league farm teams, but that exactly doesn’t make it Disneyland.

I was down there to see a woman, and in the morning I’d get up before her and drink my morning coffee (and share a morning blunt) with Steve, her father, out on the front porch. His Dad had been a miner in the 1950’s back when Scranton had a future. Then that dried up and the money left, so Steve got into carpentry and fixed motorcycles in his garage. Now he mostly sold his black market ditchweed to whoever was buying and put together the occasional table and chair for the city.

Steve reminded me of my father: stoic, hard working and diligent. I liked him better than I liked her, which is why I can’t remember her name now, and I remember him perfectly. He asked me what I knew about call centres and I told him they’ll kill your soul. He got quiet, and I recognized the look on his face. I’d seen it on my own father’s, and lately from my own in the mirror: he’d do what he had to do for his family.

That’s why something like this is good news:

“As we strategically expand our footprint across the Commonwealth, our goal is to bring more patients access to state-approved medicinal treatments that work for them. With the opening of our Scranton and Johnstown locations, we are providing patients and caregivers increased access to some of the best medicinal treatments and professional expertise available. In addition, these openings will create roughly 50 new, livable-wage jobs in the communities they serve,” said BEYOND / HELLO President Blythe Huestis.

Fifty livable-wage jobs isn’t much, but it’s a start. The company expects to add more stores by the end of the year, which will bring another 300 new jobs to the commonwealth by the end of 2019. Again—still not much—but in places like Scranton, any new job is welcome. If cannabis takes off in Scranton and Johnstown then it could garner more attention, which will mean even more jobs.

—Joseph Morton

Written By:

Joseph Morton

Joseph is a Vancouver-based author and journalist with both a communications degree and journalism diploma (and a few novels) under his belt. His joie de vivre is to spin difficult technical topics into more human-centric narratives. Buy him a coffee and he'll talk your ear off for hours about privacy issues, blockchain, cryptocurrency and martial arts. Don't talk to him if you're either a tomato, a bully, or if you're not a fan of either 1984 or Tender is the Night. No. You can still talk to him. Just be prepared to be told why you're wrong.

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