RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A watchdog group for the state’s legislature says legalizing marijuana could generate hundreds of millions in state revenue and reduce arrests particularly in the Black community.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) was directed by lawmakers to look at how Virginia could legalize marijuana and regulate the growth of it. As part of the JLARC study, the group looked at the commercial market for marijuana sales in other states, conducted interviews and reviewed research.
The group found tax collection from marijuana sales could ultimately generate up to $300 million dollars in revenue annually for state and local governments. However, Mark Gribbin, the project leader said there would be costs to get started.
“To establish a commercial market could take to more than 2 years and could cost $8 to $20 million dollars up front,” Gribbin said.
The group also found decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana could reduce arrest in the Commonwealth by about 84% particularly in the Black Community.
“We found that Black Virginians had been arrested and convicted for marijuana offenses at much higher rates than White Virginians,” Gribbin said.
JLARC found Black Virignians were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession while Black and white people use remans at the same rate.
The JLARC report also finds marijuana sales could create 11,000 new jobs in Virginia. However, most of the positions would be low paying. 15 states and DC have passed legislation allowing adult use of marijuana.