Northam administration work group outlines path toward marijuana legalization in Virginia

Large investments in robust data collection, new regulation and public education should precede the legalization of recreational marijuana in Virginia — a landscape that “cannot be created quickly.”

Those are some of the recommendations in a report published Monday by a work group that studied marijuana legalization in Virginia at the request of legislators. The group included high-ranking officials in Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration and stakeholders in public health and law enforcement, but no civil rights groups.

The report’s release comes two weeks after Northam announced he will pursue the legalization of recreational marijuana among adults — a major policy shift for the state that the administration will pursue during Northam’s last General Assembly session as governor.

The report is the clearest road map of the administration’s plans for legalization so far. It follows a Nov. 16 report from the General Assembly’s oversight and research arm that found legalizing marijuana could help end the disparate impact of criminalization on people of color while providing sizable financial benefits to the state.

The work group’s report estimates the industry could be worth between $698 million to $1.2 billion in economic activity, and about $274 million in tax revenues, according to a summary of the report provided to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, on which this story is based. [Read more at Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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