Connecticut: Urge state officials to create opportunities for small business owners
Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Connecticut adult-use lottery process begins
Last update: February 8, 2022
On February 3, 2022, a 90-day application period for Disproportionately Impacted Cultivators and Social Equity Retailers opened. This is the first of nine adult-use cannabis license types that will become available as a result of Connecticut’s 2021 legalization law.
Applications can be found here and must be completed through an online portal. Information about what is required to apply for each license type is available at ct.gov/cannabis. Interested applicants can also view a description of each license type here. The application periods for the remaining license types open on the following days:
Micro-cultivator: February 10, 2022
Delivery Service: February 17, 2022
Hybrid Retailer: February 24, 2022
Food and Beverage: March 3, 2022
Product Manufacturer: March 10, 2022
Product Packager: March 17, 2022
Transporter: March 24, 2022
License applications will be reviewed after each application period ends in 90 days. In each licensing round, there are a limited number of licenses available through the social equity and open license lottery:
Retailer: 6 general licenses, 6 social equity licenses
Micro-cultivator: 2 general licenses, 2 social equity licenses
Delivery Service: 5 general licenses, 5 social equity licenses
Hybrid Retailer: 2 general licenses, 2 social equity licenses
Food and Beverage: 5 general licenses, 5 social equity licenses
Product Packager: 3 general licenses, 3 social equity licenses
Product Manufacturer: 3 general licenses, 3 social equity licenses
Transporter: 2 general licenses, 2 social equity licenses
MPP and allies call for increase in number of licenses available via lottery
MPP and cannabis allies called on the Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner and Gov. Ned Lamont to limit the number of businesses existing medical operators can create in order to allow more licenses to be available through the lottery process. Low license numbers often allow the cannabis market to be controlled by the interests of the wealthy and politically connected, which is contrary to the equity-minded spirit with which Connecticut’s legalization law was drafted. Low license numbers could also create a situation where Connecticut’s recreational and medical cannabis markets are unable to provide adequate supply to meet the level of demand that exists, thus inflating prices and allowing nearby states — once their legal markets are up and running — to siphon off business from Connecticut operators.
MPP and other allies recommended two potential solutions: First, instead of allowing the current medical licensees to create an unlimited number of cultivator and retail establishments, a cap at two for each existing medical operator should be imposed in this initial round. This would allow for an additional number of licenses to be made available through the lottery for equity and small business applicants, creating some parity between the EJV and lottery application process.
Second, substantially increase the number of licenses available through lottery in the near future, including for full-scale cultivators, retailers, and micro-cultivators, even if the application period will open in a slightly later scheduled licensing round. This would ensure a diverse, stratified market that benefits consumers and the economics of Connecticut by allowing access to a robust offering of products.
Connecticut Social Equity Council members and executive director appointed
Connecticut’s Social Equity Council is now fully appointed. The Council held its first meeting on September 2, 2021. As part of Public Act 21-1, the Social Equity Council was created to ensure that the adult-use cannabis market in Connecticut is created in an equitable fashion, providing individuals and communities most impacted by the war on drugs are granted market opportunities and funds from the adult-use program. The Social Equity Council consists of 15 members, seven of whom are appointed by the legislature, four who are appointed by the governor, and four who are ex officio members. On August 25, 2021, Gov. Lamont announced he would appoint Ginne-Rae Clay as interim executive director of the Social Equity Council.
According to the statement released by Gov. Lamont, “Clay is an accomplished senior executive with more than 35 years of expertise in government, organizational management, education, community action, and community engagement. Most recently, she served with the City of Bridgeport as the deputy director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development.”
You can view a list full list of the Social Equity Council’s members here.
Gov. Lamont signs S.B. 1201, legalizing cannabis starting July 1
On June 22, 2021, Gov. Edward “Ned” Lamont signed S.B. 1201 — “An Act Concerning the Equitable and Responsible Regulation of Cannabis” — into law, concluding a multi-year effort to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis in the Constitution State. Earlier in June, the House and Senate passed S.B. 1201 in special session on 76-62 and16-11 votes, respectively.
Under the bill, starting July 1, adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to one and a half ounces on their person and up to five ounces in a locked trunk or secure location in their home. Legal sales are anticipated to begin by May 2022. Adults will be allowed to securely cultivate cannabis at home starting July 1, 2023. Additionally, 50% of the licenses will be reserved for equity applicants, and up to 75% of the revenue will be dedicated towards equity efforts and community reinvestment. You can check out a full summary of the bill here and a condensed summary here.
In addition to legalizing cannabis, S.B. 1201 includes expungement of lower-level cannabis records and dedicates the bulk of excise tax revenues into a Social Equity and Innovation Fund, which will be used to promote a diverse cannabis industry and reinvest in hard-hit communities. Half of new cannabis business licenses will be issued to social equity applicants, who can receive technical assistance, start-up funding, assistance from an accelerator program, and workforce training.
MPP is proud to have played a leading role in the multi-year effort to legalize cannabis in Connecticut, with a focus on equity and reparative justice. We are grateful to legislative leadership, the governor’s office, advocates, and lawmakers for working to get cannabis reform past the finish line and to get it done right. Many thanks to our amazing Regulate CT lobbying and advocacy team — MPP’s senior legislative counsel DeVaughn Ward; Paul Nuñez and the staff of Depino, Nuñez, and Biggs; Adam Wood of City and State Public Affairs; and Hillary Glass of Reynolds Strategy Group for all of their insight and assistance.
Congratulations to the Constitution State on this huge victory!
Medical marijuana program information; program expanded to include chronic pain
Connecticut’s medical marijuana program was originally enacted on June 1, 2012. The program protects patients and caregivers from arrest and prosecution if they have a valid registration card and if the medical marijuana was obtained from the specific dispensary where the patient is registered.
In 2016, both regulators and lawmakers expanded Connecticut’s medical marijuana program.
On June 2, 2020, the Connecticut Legislative Regulations Review Committee approved allowing medical cannabis to treat chronic pain — although it narrowly defined the term. The Board of Physicians recommended adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition on September 27, 2019. Previously, Connecticut was the only state medical marijuana program that did not permit patients to treat chronic pain with medical cannabis.
The revision permits medical cannabis to be recommended for adults with “chronic pain of at least six months duration associated with a specific underlying chronic condition refractory to other treatment intervention.” Unfortunately, that narrow definition means physicians can only recommend cannabis to patients who have sought treatment for their chronic pain for at least six months and whose pain has been resistant to other treatments.
The committee also approved the use of medical cannabis to treat Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an inherited disorder that weakens the body’s connective tissue and leads to weakened blood vessels and organs.
While these revisions undoubtedly expand patients’ ability to use medical cannabis to treat their aliments, Connecticut will have one of the most restrictive chronic pain provisions in the country. Patients will have to suffer for months before trying cannabis and will first be steered to far more dangerous medications.
For more information about the program, including a current list of qualifying conditions and symptoms, click here.