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First Application Period Opens for Connecticut Recreational Cannabis Businesses

  • Application period opens today for recreational cannabis retail establishments in Connecticut
  • The process starts a rolling lottery process to provide licenses for micro-cultivators, delivery services, hybrid retailers, and more
  • Today also marks the start of a non-lottery process for disproportionately impacted area cultivators

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut is accepting applications from residents interested in starting a recreational cannabis business, with this process to continue on a rolling basis for the next several months.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is currently taking applications for retail establishments and will do so for the next 90 days. A retail establishment will sell recreational cannabis to adults ages 21 and older, as well as to research programs. These businesses can purchase cannabis from producers, cultivators, micro-cultivators, product manufacturers, and food and beverage manufacturers.

“This is an exciting step toward opening the adult-use cannabis market,” said Michelle H. Seagull, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. “We want to remind all interested applicants to be thorough and to complete their applications carefully and thoughtfully, and to be patient as we move through the lottery and application review process.”

The department will award six general licenses and six social equity licenses for retail establishments. To receive a social equity license, an applicant’s business must be at least 65 percent owned or controlled by individuals who meet the social equity income and residency requirements established under the law passed last year to legalize recreational cannabis in Connecticut. At least half of the licenses for recreational cannabis businesses in Connecticut are being reserved for social equity applicants, with this process aiming to assist communities that have suffered the worst impact from marijuana criminalization.

The Social Equity Council will review applications to confirm that social equity applicants meet these qualifications. Once these applicants have been selected, a second lottery process will be held for general applicants. All applicants selected through these lotteries will be eligible to apply for a provisional license.

Licenses for disproportionately impacted area cultivators will be granted to social equity applicants in census tracts where the conviction rate for drug-related offenses is higher than one-tenth or the unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent. These businesses will be able to grow cannabis for recreational or medical use, and must have at least 15,000 square feet of cultivation space.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is also accepting applications from medical marijuana producers looking to become expanded producers, and from medical marijuana dispensaries looking to shift to hybrid retail. Neither process is subject to a lottery.

Applications can be found at elicense.ct.gov and completed through the online portal. Applicants are encouraged to carefully review their submission, as there is no advantage to filing early. Individuals identified as backers of a recreational cannabis business must complete a backer application before the close of the application window.

Further 90-day application periods will open each Thursday through March 24. These lottery processes will award licenses to micro-cultivators, delivery services, hybrid retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, product manufacturers, product packagers, and transportation companies.

Retail sales of recreational cannabis in Connecticut are anticipated to begin later this year. The Department of Consumer Protection says the initial round of licenses is not a cap, and that a second lottery is expected in the second half of 2022.

The Social Equity Council will be providing information and mentoring support for applicants on a variety of topics. These include starting and maintaining a business, the state’s lottery process for cannabis licenses, applying for a provisional license, and regulations related to the recreational cannabis business itself.

The council is holding two webinars today to kick off a series on social equity in the state’s recreational cannabis industry. The first, scheduled for noon, will provide an overview of the  Social Equity Council, cannabis license types, and the lottery process. A second webinar at 5:30 p.m. covers financing for businesses in the recreational cannabis industry, including startup business loans, lines of credit, private and micro lenders, friends and family loans, and crowdfunding.

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