The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) said that it would begin accepting applications for some adult-use cannabis license types in 30 days, following the final approval of technical assistance plans by the department’s Social Equity Council earlier on Tuesday.
“This work by the Social Equity Council is a critical step in the licensure process for the emerging Adult-Use cannabis market in Connecticut and will be instrumental in ensuring the equity goals established in the law are met,” DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a press release from the agency.
Lawmakers in Connecticut legalized the use and possession of cannabis by adults last summer, making the state the fourth of five states to legalize recreational cannabis in 2021. Connecticut regulators are currently drafting rules to govern the adult-use cannabis industry, with dispensaries expected to begin selling recreational cannabis as soon as later this year.
The DCP also announced the number of licenses for each adult-use cannabis business type that will be available in the first lottery round to be held later this year. A total of 12 retailer licenses, 10 delivery licenses and four hybrid retailer licenses will be awarded, with licenses for each type equally split among general and social equity applicants.
The department will also award a limited number of licenses for other recreational cannabis businesses including micro-cultivators, transporters, manufacturers and product packagers in the first round lottery, with all license types equally divided among social equity and general applicants.
“The initial number of available licenses is not a cap, but a starting point for opening the adult-use cannabis market in an effective, measured and thoughtful way,” Seagull said. “We know people are anxious to apply and see this market open, and we are hopeful that making this information available will help applicants as they begin to prepare for the lottery process.”
Most Licensed Awarded Via Lottery
The application rounds for each of the eight license types that will be selected through the DCP’s lottery process will open on a staggered basis. The application period for the first round of lotteries will remain open for 90 days. The department also expects to open a second lottery application period for most license types in the second half of 2022.
Applications for cultivators located in a previously identified list of areas disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, which are not subject to a lottery draw, will be accepted beginning on February 3. The DCP will also begin accepting applications for cannabis retailers on February 3, with applications for other license types opening on a continuing basis through March 24, 2022.
The department will hold two lotteries for each license type, a social equity lottery and a separate lottery for general applicants. Applicants selected in the social equity lottery are subject to review by the Social Equity Council to confirm their status as social equity applicants. To qualify for social equity status, at least 65 percent of the business must be owned or controlled by individuals who meet income and residency requirements.
“Reviewing and vetting applications once they’ve been randomly selected through the lottery process will be a huge task for both DCP and the Social Equity Council,” said Andréa Comer, DCP deputy commissioner and chair of the Social Equity Council. “Establishing the number of licenses that will be available in the first application round is an important step in ensuring the Council, as well as DCP, can fairly and thoroughly review each application and issue licenses in a timely manner.”
The DCP also said that it will hold multiple lotteries to award cannabis business licenses on an ongoing basis. The department plans to announce the number of licenses that will be available before each application round. Rod Marriott, the director of the DCP’s Drug Control Division, encouraged applicants to complete their applications for cannabis business licenses “carefully and thoroughly.”
“Applications for most license types will be entered into a lottery,” Marriot noted. “There is no advantage for applicants who submit their lottery applications first. Applicants should prioritize submitting the best application they can.”
Applicants for some types of businesses, including licensed medical cannabis producers transitioning to the adult-use market and medical cannabis dispensaries converting to a hybrid retailer license, are not subject to a lottery process. Applicants applying for a cannabis establishment license as an Equity Joint Venture or Social Equity Partner with a licensed medical marijuana producer or dispensary facility and those applying for the Social Equity Council Micro-Cultivator Assistance Program will also be awarded without a lottery.
Applications for cannabis business licenses will be available from the DCP online.