Connecticut social equity council endorses 16 adult-use cannabis growers

Connecticut made an important first step toward issuing adult-use marijuana licenses this week, prompting Gov. Ned Lamont to say a market launch could be only six months away.

Out of 41 applicants, the state’s Social Equity Council recommended 16 equity cultivation applicants to receive licenses.

The next step is for the state Department of Consumer Protection to approve provisional licenses for the group, the New Haven Register reported. Applicants will be identified after that approval.

“We’re about six months away from opening a safe, equitable market,” Lamont tweeted following the Social Equity Council’s action.

The winners of final licenses will be able to build cultivation facilities totaling up to 250,000 square feet.

But the cultivation license fee of $3 million, believed to be the highest equity fee in the country, raised eyebrows.

The fee was a provision in the recreational marijuana bill passed by lawmakers last year and signed into law.

The money will go into the state’s social equity fund.

Existing medical cannabis growers also are required to pay a $3 million fee to cultivate for the recreational marijuana market; but that fee will be cut in half, to $1.5 million, if they take on a social equity partner.

The Social Equity Council rejected 17 applicants because of ownership or control issues and eight applicants for failing to meet residency and income requirements, the New Haven Register reported.

“A 40% approval rate is quite low for this one-time opportunity,” cannabis attorney Michelle Bodian in Vicente Sederberg’s New York and Boston offices, wrote in an email to MJBizDaily on Wednesday.

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“It will be informative to see the rationale behind the 25 denials, especially with the social equity lottery applicants anxiously awaiting their results and hoping they meet the criteria,” Bodian wrote.

Bodian is referring to a separate licensing round in which 37,000 applicants are vying via lottery for 56 adult-use marijuana licenses, including 28 equity permits.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.