Cannabis legalization in Virginia could generate up to $1.2 billion in economic activity for the state along with $274 million in revenues, but it could take up to five years to reach those levels, according to a report authored by state officials outlined by the Northern Virginia Daily.
The authors note in the report – which relied on recommendations from the Marijuana Legalization Work Group – that “while the potential economic opportunities and revenue impacts are promising, they are not guaranteed.”
Additionally, the report says that in 2018 about 29,000 Virginians were arrested for cannabis-related offenses, an increase of about 9,000 arrests compared to 2009. Black Virginians, the report says, are “approximately three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related charges than white Virginians.”
“Virginia should consider that undoing the harms of criminalization should include expungement or sealing of criminal records, creation and issuance of social equity licenses, assistance with access to capital and business planning, consideration of how the entire regulatory scheme could affect barriers to entry into the industry, and community reinvestment and monitoring with a disparity report.” – “Impact on the Commonwealth of Legalizing the Sale and Personal Use of Marijuana,” November 30, 2020
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who is also a physician, said last month – ahead of the report’s release – that he plans to introduce legalization legislation when the legislature convenes in January. He estimated it would take between 18 months to two years to implement a regulated marketplace.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, an independent watchdog organization, said that while the state would have to spend $8 million to $20 million to establish a commercial cannabis regime, it could generate $300 million per year for state and local governments and reduce arrests in the commonwealth by 84 percent, according to a WRIC report.