Bill Summary: 

  • Regulatory framework: Sets up a framework for the legal, regulated production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products for adults 21 and older in Connecticut. Creates a five-member, governor-appointed Cannabis Commission within the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to license and regulate the industry.
    • Two commissioners must have a background in civil rights or social justice and one must have a background in economic development. The DCP commissioner chairs the commission.
    • Commission employees include an executive director, two staff to review and process applications, two staff to assist applicants, four staff to enforce the regulations, and any other clerks, inspectors, or other assistants that are needed.
  • Equity: Requires the commission to promote full participation in the industry by people from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, including through proactive outreach. Includes robust equity provisions, including:
    • Providing for a budget of at least $500,000 per year for outreach to people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement and to assist applicants with the pre-application process.
    • Preferences for equity applicants, which include individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and conviction for cannabis and individuals with past cannabis possession convictions.
      • Equity applicants may apply at least three months in advance of other applicants for each license type, except that medical cannabis businesses may apply at the same time.
      • Reduces all fees for equity applicants.
    • Requires each business to report annually on diversity in its workplace and ownership and the commission to report annually on aggregate numbers.
    • Does not prohibit applicants with past infractions or misdemeanors for drug convictions from participating in the cannabis industry.
    • Requires all licensees to establish and adhere to policies to encourage diversity in the workplace, contracts, and other professional opportunities.
    • Requires any non-equity applicant to comply with an approved plan to provide investment and employment opportunities in disproportionately impacted communities with a history of economic disinvestment.
    • Allows delivery and requires the commission to consider methods to increase employment opportunities in delivery for disproportionately impacted communities.
  • Regulations: Lists specific types of regulations on adult-use cannabis businesses the commission must issue, many of which promote consumer and public health:
    • requires cannabis employees to be at least 21 years old
    • requires the commission to craft health, safety, security, and child-proof packaging requirements, along with restrictions on advertising and marketing
    • products and packaging cannot be designed to appeal to minors; toys, animals, cartoons, and products that look like a specific trademarked food are forbidden
    • cannabis and cannabis products must be accompanied by a scientifically accurate warning handout or label regarding impaired driving, the need to keep cannabis away from minors and pets, and warnings about possible risks such as cannabis use disorder, risks specific to younger adults with developing minds, those specific to pregnancy and breastfeeding, and any risks of exacerbating psychosis
    • provides cannabis to be tested for contaminants and potency
    • requires provisions for the suspension and revocation of licenses
  • Cultivation: Provides for at least three types of cultivation facilities: small, medium and large, with fees varying based on the size. Both indoor and outdoor cultivation will be allowed. For the largest facilities, the application fees are at least $25,000 and the license fees are at least $75,000, except in the case of equity applicants.
  • Retailer application and licensing fees are at least $5,000, except for equity applicants.
  • A cultivation facility may also manufacture products, but it cannot operate a retailer.
  • Local control: Allows towns to prohibit or restrict cannabis businesses. They may not impose any fees on equity applicants approved by the Commission.
  • Medical cannabis: Reduces medical cannabis patient fees to no more than $10 and directs the commission to study the possibility of subsidizing medical cannabis. Requires businesses selling to adults and patients to expedite medical sales and for the commission to have quantity restrictions on non-medical sales. Patients will be allowed higher potency cannabis products.
  • Further study: Requires the commission to study the feasibility of allowing home cultivation and microbusinesses and to report back by January 1, 2021.

MPP stance: MPP strongly supports creating a comprehensive regulatory structure for adult-use cannabis. HB 7371 contains robust provisions to ensure an equitable industry, along with strong public health measures. While the bill is a great start, MPP has the following suggestions:

  • Rather than requiring a study on whether to allow micro-businesses and home cultivation, MPP urges that both be allowed from the outset.
  • MPP recommends allowing additional license types, including for on-site consumption, special events, and delivery companies, at the outset.
  • Deleting from the definition of equity applicants those who have “experience with cannabis cultivation, distribution or the sale or manufacture of cannabis products” or revising it to correspond with those from impacted communities. (As written, it would give an advantage and reduced fees to individuals who are not from impacted communities and who instead are successful in the cannabis industry in other states.)
  • Currently, the bill grants priority status to applicants that have experience in or promote empowerment in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition. (lines 179-183, 227-311) This should include  those who have themselves been harmed by prohibition or who are from communities that have been disproportionately harmed.
  • Rather than charging the commission with developing a limit on the number of cultivators, the limits should be based on total canopy, with each cultivation facility licensed for a set amount of canopy. (line 216) It is important that any cultivation limits not be too low, otherwise they cause shortages, high prices, and limited revenue. Any limits must also take into account that some crops and some businesses will fail and the demand from non-Connecticut residents.
  • The cap on fees for product manufacturers should be far lower than $25,000 for an application and $35,000 for a licensing fee. (lines 298-304) The fees are far higher than other states’ fees and are out of reach for most small businesses.
  • Laboratory employees should be allowed to receive cannabis from any adult, not just from cannabis businesses. (lines 359-362) This allows any consumer who is concerned their cannabis may be mislabeled or contaminated to get it tested directly.
  • The bill specifies that the commission should work to eliminate the cost differential between medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis. (lines 525-529) It should instead ensure medical cannabis is no more expensive than adult-use cannabis. It would be appropriate and compassionate to have lower prices for patients.

Download Attachments

Ct HB 7371 Summary General Law.pdf 90
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