VA recreational marijuana market would need 5 years to mature, report says

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It would take up to five years for a recreational marijuana program to become fully established in Virginia if legalization efforts there proceed, a working group set up by state legislators predicts.

The group’s report follows comments earlier this month by Gov. Ralph Northam that he would push for an adult-use cannabis program during the 2021 legislative session.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the working group estimates the industry could generate $698 million to $1.2 billion in economic activity.

The panel – made up of four members of Northam’s cabinet and other senior government officials – is prioritizing the creation of a state agency to regulate a new cannabis market as well as collecting data on current marijuana use in the state.

The group also includes representatives from public health and law enforcement, according to the Times-Dispatch, but no civil rights advocates.

The group’s report recommends creating several licensing tiers, taking into account social equity concerns for locating facilities and dispensaries.

This all follows a Nov. 16 report from the General Assembly that found legalizing recreational cannabis could provide financial benefits to the state while helping end the impact of marijuana prohibition on people of color.