Legalizing cannabis in Virginia could bring up to $1.2 billion in economic activity to the state, as well as $274 million in revenue, but it could take up to five years to reach that level, according to a report prepared by state officials, as reported by the Northern Virginia Daily.
The authors note in the report, which is based on the recommendations of the Working Group on the Legalization of Marijuana, that while the potential effects on the economy and incomes are promising, they cannot be guaranteed.
Additionally, the report indicates that in 2018, approximately 29,000 Virgini residents were arrested for cannabis-related offenses, about 9,000 more than in 2009. According to the report, black Virginians are about three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Virginians.
Virginia should consider that addressing the harms of criminalization should include removing or expunging criminal records, creating and issuing social justice licenses, assisting with access to capital and business planning, exploring how the overall regulatory system can affect barriers to entry, and reinvesting and monitoring at the community level with attention to inequities. – Implications for the Commonwealth of Legalizing the Purchase, Sale, and Personal Use of Marijuana, 30. November 2020.
Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who is also a doctor, said last month – before the report was released – that he plans to introduce a legalization bill when the House convenes in January. He estimated that it would take 18 months to two years to establish a regulated market.
The Joint Audit and Legislative Review Commission, an independent oversight body, said the government should spend between $8 million and $20 million, but only $8 million. In addition to the $300 million for the commercial processing of cannabis, this could generate $300 million for the United States. The WRC report notes that the Commonwealth has an annual budget of $8.5 billion for state and local governments, and that the number of arrests in the Commonwealth has decreased by 84%.
TG joined the team in 2014 as news editor and began hosting the podcast in 2016. He lives in upstate New York, where he also teaches media studies at a local university.