Virginia considers marijuana legalization study

Virginia State Senator David Englin has introduced a bill that would establish an eight member subcommittee to study the impact of marijuana legalization in the Commonwealth:

In conducting its study, the joint subcommittee shall examine the feasibility and practicality of selling marijuana under the restrictions and conditions as allowed by law, the impact of these sales in Virginia’s ABC stores and on its patrons, as well as the potential revenue impact upon the Commonwealth.

The proposal is likely ill-fated in a legislature that seems poised to reject Governor McDonnell’s ABC privatization plan. However, given that privatization is largely being scrapped due to the revenue it produces for the state, Englin’s bill may yet have a slim lifeline if he can promote it on fiscal grounds and equate the possible benefits to those reaped from the recent record liquor profits. Still, it will be a tough sell to socially conservative Republicans who oppose legalization on a merely personal basis.

In late 2010, Englin expressed his openness to ABC privatization:

Given the increasingly bitter political environment of the past year, it’s refreshing to have a policy debate in Richmond where Republicans and Democrats generally agree: Philosophically, hardly anyone, including me, believes that selling liquor should be a core service of government.

It isn’t likely that the state senator is introducing this proposal on a moral basis for legalizing marijuana but as a source for more government revenue. While more blood to the beast is never good, the possibilities of both eliminating the dangerous black market for marijuana and cutting public safety costs outweigh the cons and this is, ostensibly, a step in the right direction.


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