Portsmouth dispensary weighs in on economic, tourism impact of legalizing adult-use cannabis in Virginia

Marijuana Boom Oklahoma
Posted at 8:23 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 11:36:02-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Adam Goers is with the national, medicinally-focused cannabis company, Columbia Care.

"I've suffered from chronic pain for 12-plus years," Goers told News 3. "I, along with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans, are finding relief through medical cannabis today."

They recently opened their doors at their Portsmouth medical marijuana dispensary.

"We've seen week over week growth as patients are finding this as an available option for them," he said.

Now, he and others are reacting to the thought of a new opportunity in Virginia: Marijuana for adult use.

"We're going to be tired. We're going to be enthused," Goers said. "It's exciting for so many reasons."

Last month, state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill legalizing adult-use cannabis starting in January 2024.

News 3 recently talked with Dr. Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, Director of Old Dominion University's Social Science Research Center.

In a summer 2019 survey, they found about 65% of people in Hampton Roads felt pot should be legal.

"That ranged from a low of 57% in Suffolk, to a high of almost 81% in Portsmouth," Vandecar-Burdin told News 3. "Those who rate their health as fair or poor were slightly more likely to favor legalization."

For Goers, he's seeing green beyond the plant.

"In Illinois, and now most recently in New Jersey, we've seen adult-use sales have really skyrocketed," he said. "It can mean a business like ours is doing three, four, five times as much business to be able to service those adult-use customers."

He said the move would also add more jobs to the Hampton Roads region.

"We certainly, at Columbia Care, expect that we're going to be bringing on over 100 new employees between now and the onset of adult-use cannabis sales," he said.

Goers believes legalized cannabis will also have an impact on tourism in the Commonwealth.

"When we do have visitors in the region, this does add a destination for them," he said. "Having tourists coming in who can safely and responsibly consume cannabis is a boom for our local businesses."

Goers added he's looking ahead as the bill heads to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk.

"We think that Virginia can build on the success that these places across the country have found, whether that's the economic impact, whether that's jobs or whether that's the new entrepreneurial activity," he said.