Connecticut will begin accepting the first applications for cannabis businesses

·2 min read

The state Department of Consumer Protection will begin accepting the first applications for certain adult-use cannabis establishment license types in early February.

On Tuesday, a panel establishing a framework for the sale of legal marijuana in Connecticut also approved criteria to ensure that Black and other underserved communities targeted by government’s war on drugs have access to the lucrative market.

The Social Equity Council approved a workforce development plan, proof of residency and income requirements, ownership control rules and other regulations.

“Today is a huge deal,” said Ginne-Rae Clay, interim executive director of the council.

On Tuesday the department said that 56 first-round licenses will be available for retailers, micro-cultivators, delivery service, food and beverage businesses, manufacturers, transporters and others. They are evenly split among social equity and general licenses.

Applications for social equity cultivator licenses located in areas that are considered “disproportionately impacted” will have a one-time 90-day application period beginning Feb. 3 and ending May 4.

The Department of Consumer Protection will schedule several lotteries and announce the number of available licenses before each application round.

The General Assembly and Gov. Ned Lamont last year enacted legislation legalizing adult use of cannabis and included key provisions to address long-standing inequities. The law includes a “social equity” provision intended to provide those hurt by the prohibition of marijuana an expedited opportunity to enter the potentially lucrative cannabis market.

Criteria approved by the council include requirements for Connecticut-based workforce training programs to support business startups. It anticipates at least 51% of those served to be individuals who live in areas disproportionately affected by the government’s war on drugs and Black and other communities of color.

The state also will require cannabis businesses to prove they plan to hire workers, boost skills and define “career pathways.”

It defines a social equity applicant as a business seeking a license for a cannabis establishment that’s at least 65% owned and controlled by an individual or individuals who had an average household income of less than 300% of the state median household income, which was about $74,000 in 2021, over three years.

The agency said it expects to open a second lottery application period for most license types in the second half of the year.

DCP will schedule a social equity lottery and a general lottery. Applicants selected in the social equity lottery are subject to review by the Social Equity Council.

The DCP and Social Equity Council will review and vet applications that are randomly selected through the lottery.

Stephen Singer can be reached at ssinger@courant.com.

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