During the 2016 Presidential campaign and leading right up to the election, Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader in the Senate and Kentucky’s senior Senator campaigned on the idea of a ‘War on Coal’ as the reason for job loss in our eastern counties. He spoke of how Republicans will bring coal jobs back to the State. Imagine the surprise in our eastern counties when old Mitch was recently quoted as saying that job creation was, ‘a private sector activity’. Expressing the idea that government does not create jobs.
Government creates jobs by its very existence and actions. Can Government bring coal jobs back? In a word, no. The market mostly decides what happens in a given industry and automation and cheap gas is ending coal. Are there actions State legislators could take to bring an industry to Kentucky? Yes, legislative action could free an industry from oppressive and unscientific laws and regulations to allow an industry to reach its maximum potential. Is there an industry that could replace or create more jobs and prosperity statewide than the coal industry? Yes there is.
The cannabis industry will create more jobs than trying to save a dying coal industry. All Kentucky’s citizens are waiting for is the Assembly to move forward on cannabis legalization and stand back and let the market grow.
Colorado, for example, has allowed for medical cannabis since 2012 and in 2014 began recreational legalization. The industry in 2015 paid 146 million in taxes on 947 million in sales and has created 18,000 full time jobs in the industry with 2.5 billion in economic activity. Colorado’s population is an estimated 5.5 million and Kentucky’s is 4.5 million. We would probably see an 800 million dollar market with about 2 billion in economic activity. We wouldn’t have to work that hard to set it up. Simply set up a committee to borrow Colorado’s program and adapt it to gain maximum benefit from this lucrative industry. We could be up and running in 2 years if we do it right and before we are done there will be Kentucky cannabis products being sold nationwide!
California’s citizens have had access to cannabis for 20 years and Colorado for 5 years. They have yet to experience any of the terrible things that those who oppose legalization have claimed would happen for the last 80 years. The prohibitionists have been completely wrong about every prediction of doom and gloom if marijuana is legal. Those prohibitionists should have zero credibility on this issue as they have been wrong at every turn and should not even be included in the discussion.
Is job creation a, ‘private sector activity’, as Senator McConnell claims? Certainly when government lets a contract jobs are created. In the case of cannabis, government simply has to follow the science and get out of the way. Kentucky’s newly elected Assembly with a Republican majority has the opportunity to bring a billion dollar industry and more than 15,000 jobs to the state in 2017. They should git to work as soon as the Assembly opens. Our eastern counties are desperately awaiting action and do not want to hear their leaders say job creation is a, ‘private sector activity’ as an excuse to let them down once again!