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New report says legal state marijuana sales could overtake illegal trade by year four

Virginia’s commercial marijuana market could yield between $30 million to $60 million in tax revenue in the first year, according to a new report by the state’s legislative watchdog agency.

Capital News Service

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By Sam Fowler

Virginia’s commercial marijuana market could yield between $30 million to $60 million in tax revenue in the first year, according to a new report by the state’s legislative watchdog agency.

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission released a report this month that explores how the commonwealth could legalize marijuana. The agency, however, did not give its take on legalization. Shortly after the report was released Gov. Ralph Northam announced that “it’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia.”

The state’s tax revenue could grow to between $150 million to more than $300 million by the fifth year of sales, according to JLARC. The revenue depends on the tax and demand of marijuana products.

 Most states with commercial marijuana markets tax the product between 20%-30% percent of the retail sales value, JLARC said. Colorado, one of the most mature and successful U.S. marijuana markets, currently has a tax rate close to 30%, showing that while the tax may be high, the market could still be successful, said Justin Brown, senior associate director at JLARC.

“But in reality, there’s no magic rate that you have to use, and I think that’s one thing that the other states’ experience shows,” Brown said.

Virginia decriminalized marijuana possession earlier this year. The substance is still not legal, but possessing up to an ounce results in a $25 civil penalty and no jail time. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

If the Old Dominion makes marijuana legal, it will follow in the footsteps of 15 states.

The legal marijuana market should overtake the illegal market in marijuana sales by the fourth year of legalization, JLARC said. The legal market could likely have two-thirds of sales by the fifth year of legalization. JLARC looked at the reported use rates compared to the use rates of other states to determine this figure, Brown said.

“In the first year the minority of sales will be through the legal commercial market,” Brown said. “But then over time, particularly if supply and demand works out, you’ll capture at least the majority of the full market through the legal market.”

JLARC said that if the General Assembly legalizes marijuana, the total sales tax would come out to around 25%-30%. This figure also came from the analysis of other states and how they taxed marijuana.

The industry also could create over several years between 11,000 to more than 18,000 jobs, JLARC said. Most positions would pay below Virginia’s median wage.

The revenue would cover the cost of establishing a market by year three, according to JLARC.

Northam said in a press release last week that his administration is working with lawmakers to finalize related legislation in preparation for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session, which starts Jan. 13.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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City of Richmond declares State of Emergency due to “credible threats” related to planned protests

The city’s declaration opens up funds for emergency use and was voted into effect unanimously by City Council Monday evening.

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The City of Richmond and Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration has declared a State of Emergency for the city due to what officials call “credible threats” of violence related to planned protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.

The declaration follows Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a statewide State of Emergency, which allowed the administration to send National Guard troops and State Troopers to Washington, D.C. to help with security, logistics, and other immediate needs following the insurrection at the Capitol last week.

The city’s declaration opens up funds for emergency use and was voted into effect unanimously by City Council Monday evening.

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Crime

Police seek suspect in armed robbery on West Hill Street

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individuals in the attached surveillance photos, who are suspects in a commercial armed robbery that occurred last month.

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Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individuals in the attached surveillance photos, who are suspects in a commercial armed robbery that occurred last month.

At approximately 8 p.m. on December 14, 2020, the two male suspects walked into the Tiger Martconvenience store, located at 200 West Hill Street, displayed firearms, and robbed the store of an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspects then fled on foot, but security video captured them getting into a small white Toyota SUV (photos attached).

Anyone with information about their identity is asked to call Fourth Precinct Detective K. Robinson at (804) 646-6820 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used.  All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Arrest made, man charged in Brookland Park Boulevard double fatal crash from Thanksgiving Day

The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team, with the assistance of the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, has made an arrest in connection to the double fatal crash that occurred on Thanksgiving Day.

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The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team, with the assistance of the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, has made an arrest in connection to the double fatal crash that occurred on Thanksgiving Day.

Ryann Daniels was captured yesterday afternoon by deputies in Currituck County. At approximately 1:30 p.m., the deputies responded to a report of the wanted subject at a residence. As the deputies approached the residence, Daniels fled on foot into a wooded area on the backside of the property. A K-9 unit, accompanied by several deputies, tracked Daniels and took him into custody.

Daniels has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. His booking photo is attached. He is currently being held at the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office detention center on a $500,000 bond.

At approximately 7:54 p.m. on Thursday, November 26, 2020, Daniels was driving a pick-up truck westbound on Brookland Park Boulevard, disregarded a red light and entered the intersection of Chamberlayne Avenue – striking two vehicles, including an SUV, that were traveling southbound on Chamberlayne Avenue.

All three vehicles then collided with three vehicles that were stopped in the eastbound lanes of Brookland Park Boulevard.

Karen Murphy and Kevin Hancock were in the SUV. Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene. Hancock was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

“It is always tragic losing a loved one, but especially on a holiday centered on time spent with family. We want to send the victims’ families our sincerest condolences during this difficult time,” said Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith. “Our crash team investigators have been working diligently to apprehend the suspect. I would like to thank them and the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office for their tremendous work.”

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call RPD Crash Team Investigator D. Olson at (804) 646-1664 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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