Marijuana in CT: 16 applicants recommended to grow pot, including from Stamford, Hartford

Photo of Julia Bergman
This March 22, 2019 file photo shows a bud on a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. 

This March 22, 2019 file photo shows a bud on a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. 

Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Applicants from Bridgeport, Middletown, Stamford, and Waterbury are among the first to be recommended to grow marijuana in Connecticut.

The state’s Social Equity Council met Tuesday to review applications for social equity cultivator licenses. In total, 41 applications were submitted to the state. The accounting firm CohnReznick, which the council hired to vet the applications, determined 25 did not comply.

Social equity applicants must meet the income, residency and ownership requirements established by the council. At Tuesday’s meeting, the council recommended 16 equity applicants for cultivator licenses. The council denied eight applications for failing to meet residency and income requirements, and another 17 based on ownership and control issues.

The 16 applicants must next be approved by the state Department of Consumer Protection to get a provisional license. Two are residents of Bridgeport; five hail from Hartford; three live in New Britain; one each in Manchester, Middletown, Southington and Stamford, and two are in Waterbury. The applicants, who will be identified after DCP approval, do not have to open their grow operations in the municipalities in which they live.

The social equity cultivator licenses are reserved for equity applicants who want to operate grow facilities in a so-called disproportionately impacted area, which tend to be urban and low-income, and were identified based on past cannabis convictions and unemployment rates.

The head of the Connecticut Cannabis Chamber of Commerce applauded the council’s decision in a written statement Tuesday.

“This decision will generate $48 million in income to advance the social equity program in Connecticut and create hundreds of good-paying jobs in our state,” said the chamber’s president Adam Wood. “The vote will also bring needed economic development, opportunity, and tax-base growth in some of our state's most disproportionately impacted communities in cities such as Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven.”

Most people who want to operate in Connecticut’s adult use cannabis market must win a license through a lottery process. But the state’s cannabis law provides several exceptions including for equity applicants interested in growing marijuana. The intention behind that provision of the law is to give people who were targeted by the past criminalization of marijuana an opportunity to get into the legal market.

In total, the state received nearly 37,300 applications for the various types of cannabis licenses ranging from retail to cultivator across equity and non-equity applicants. Retail received the most interest with more than 15,600 applications received followed by micro-cultivator with more than 8,460 applications.