Editorial: Why Virginia should look at medical marijuana

Editorial: Why Virginia should look at medical marijuana

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So when retired Roanoke Circuit Court Judge Richard Pattisall came to see us recently, we naturally listened. When he suggested that Virginia should legalize medical marijuana, that definitely got our attention. After all, here’s a man who’s sent people to jail for drug offenses. Pattisall had a very particular reason for why he thinks Virginia should take this step, one that he laid out in a recent commentary on these pages: Jobs (and the potential to tax the crops.) Specifically, that’s jobs in the coalfields, a part of the state where he grew up and still has an affinity for. His rationale: Medical marijuana is becoming more accepted — it’s now legal in 28 states (though not Virginia) and the District of Columbia. If states are allowing marijuana as a treatment for certain medical conditions, it’s got to be grown somewhere. Why not Virginia? And why not in a part of the state that’s desperate for jobs? Pattisall has not, we assure you, been smoking something. There really is an economic development argument to be made for medical marijuana. When Illinois legalized medical marijuana in 2014, small towns across the state were clamoring for a marijuana “cultivation center” to locate in their community. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a company say, ‘Hey, we want to bring in 50 jobs and we want to bring in tax revenue to your school,”’ Liz Skinner, the mayor of Delavan (population 1,163) told the Chicago-based Daily Herald. When Revolution Enterprises finally opened its “cultivation center” in Delavan, it instantly became the largest private employer in the town. Perhaps here’s a good place to stop and clear up some misconceptions. Medical marijuana isn’t the same as “recreational” marijuana. It also isn’t necessarily consumed by smoking a joint. There’s an entire industry […]

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