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(The Center Square) — Making recreational marijuana legal in Virginia could create up to 18,000 jobs and generate up to $308 million in annual tax revenue, depending on the tax rate.

A Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report said a legal marijuana market, when fully implemented, would create between 11,000 and 18,000 jobs, including cultivators, technicians, trimmers and sellers.

The jobs likely would be concentrated in Virginia’s most populous areas, and the median wage of these jobs likely would be less than the state’s median wage.

Tax revenue in a legal market would depend on the tax rate that's established and the demand in the legal market. The JLARC report estimated revenue could reach between $154 million and $308 million by year five of legalization.

Virginia likely would issue between 100 and 800 cultivation licenses, between 30 and 150 processing or distribution licenses and between 200 and 600 retail licenses, depending on the demand for legal marijuana, according to the report.

Revenue generated through a marijuana tax has been used for a variety of programs in states that already have legal marijuana, including public education, mental health and drug abuse prevention services, and dropout and bullying prevention programs, said Olivia Naugle, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

“MPP strongly urges that states invest a substantial portion of cannabis tax revenue in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and the broader war on drugs,” Naugle told The Center Square. “In Illinois, 25% of cannabis tax revenue goes to the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program, which funds grants for violence prevention, re-entry, youth development, economic development, and civil legal aid services in areas with high rates of gun violence, child poverty, unemployment and incarceration.”

Naugle said a legal market would reduce marijuana-related arrests, improve health and safety outcomes for consumers by replacing an illicit market with a regulated system, create a source of revenue and jobs and repair decades of harm caused by prohibition.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said this week he will introduce and support legislation to legalize marijuana.

“It is great news that Governor Northam has embraced legalization,” Naugle said. “We hope that he and the General Assembly will pass a thoughtful and equitable cannabis law next year.”

Neither the House Democratic Caucus nor the Senate Democratic Caucus have endorsed legalizing recreational marijuana.

"The study the legislature requested this past session was presented yesterday and proposed a wide range of recommendations should the Commonwealth move in this direction,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, said in a statement. “We will take the time to review the study, listen to our constituents and stakeholders, and decide as a legislature how best to move forward in 2021. I appreciate the Governor expressing his views on the topic and will continue to engage in discussions with him and his administration as part of our legislative process."

The Senate Democratic Caucus declined to comment, but some senators advocated legalization on social media.

“Legalization in Virginia must redress past disproportionality in marijuana enforcement and ensure Black/Brown Virginians have an opportunity to benefit from the new commercial market,” Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, tweeted. “I will work to ensure these social equity components are enacted.”

Republicans generally oppose legalizing marijuana.

Northam signed legislation earlier this year that decriminalized simple possession of marijuana, which means Virginians face civil fines instead of criminal charges.

(2) comments

guest24

Don't be fooled by marijuana "decriminalization" because citizens are still going to be treated like common criminals for marijuana under it. This is what desperate anti-marijuana prohibitionist types will now settle for.

Police will confiscate your "illegally purchased" marijuana under so-called "decriminization".

They also fail to mention the additional huge cost of court costs which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars on top of the relatively small ticket/fine.

If you fail to pay these very expensive and often unaffordable court costs you will be in "the system" as a criminal. With a warrant out for your arrest and incarceration.

This policy still allows marijuana to be used as a tool and probable cause by law enforcement to investigate marijuana consumers for no other reason other than even the detection of the scent of marijuana by law enforcement and they will confiscate your marijuana.

Overall, decriminalization through it's hidden, super expensive court costs and mandatory summons to appear in court, combined with the allowance of marijuana to still be used by law enforcement as a tool and probable cause still allows marijuana to be an ordinary. otherwise law abiding citizen's introduction into the criminal justice system.

No thanks! If this so called policy of marijuana "decriminalization" truly means marijuana is no longer supposed to be a "crime", then why are marijuana consumers still going to be treated like criminals under it?

Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws as the drinkers of alcohol. Plain and simple!

Citizens will STILL be forced to the dangerous black market and a shady illegal street drug dealer to purchase their marijuana. Getting caught buying it is STILL a crime they will arrest and jail you for. Then, they will also most likely try to FORCE you to either mandatory community service and/or rehab, and if you don't comply, guess what? JAILTIME!

Also, we will still be wasting our tax dollars sending police around to write summons to marijuana users and wasting police manpower and resources.

Instead of allowing our police the time, manpower and resources to protect us all from real, dangerous criminals who actually commit crimes with victims and pose a real threat to society.

Why else do you think some politicians are so EAGER to "decriminalize", instead of LEGALIZE?

Don't Let'em Fool Us!!!

If you can't purchase it legally and police will confiscate it, then it isn't legal.

If you have to fear a monetary fine/ticket which if you don't pay and/or show up in court to handle, you then become a criminal with a warrant out for your arrest, and when convicted (yes convicted, as in crime.) you will then be forced into free manual labor and/or forced drug rehabilitation to be used as another statistic prohibitionists love to flaunt about supposed "marijuana addicts", then....No, it's not legal!

This will not suffice! Getting caught purchasing marijuana is still considered a serious "drug deal" and you will be prosecuted for it!

DEMAND FULL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION NATIONWIDE!

guest24

Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

Plain and simple!

Legalize Nationwide!

It's time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote'em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called "Addiction Specialists" who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, - Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don't have one.

The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

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