Stamford mayor’s husband, former state senator inches towards cannabis cultivation license

Photo of Verónica Del Valle

STAMFORD — Mayor Caroline Simmons’ husband is in line to be one of Connecticut’s first cannabis growers, records show. But if his company gets final approval, Stamford will not be where they set up shop.

A company in part owned by former state senator and current Stamford first gentleman Art Linares last week was announced to be one of the LLCs tapped by the state Social Equity Council to receive a cultivation license. The 16 businesses chosen by the state must still undergo a background check and review by consumer protection officials to obtain final approval.

Linares owns a slice of Connecticut Social Equity, the entity that received a license — through his involvement in Linares Faye LLC. State business records available through the Secretary of the State’s office show that Linares is one of three business partners alongside Southington-based mortgage broker Brian Faye and his father, Luis Arturo Linares.

Simmons and Linares have been married since 2017. Together, they welcomed their third child in January. But beyond his marriage to the city’s first female mayor, who is a former state representative, Linares launched his own career in business and politics.

Linares, a registered real estate agent, represented Connecticut’s 33rd district in the state senate from 2013 until 2019 . He also owns Linares Land Capital LLC, a private investment company. Previously, he co-founded the solar energy company Greenskies, which was acquired by another company in 2017.

Even though the company snagged preliminary approval for the license through the state’s social equity cultivators program — meant to open up the industry to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization — Linares Faye is not the so-called social equity applicant.

Van Scoy LLC and its principal officer Steve Van Scoy fill that role. The social equity partner for any growing operation must own at least 65 percent of the business. To have the social equity designation, an applicant must make less than three times Connecticut’s average household income. The applicant must have lived either in a “disproportionately impacted area” for at least five of the last 10 years or lived in a disproportionately impacted area for a minimum of nine years before turning 18.

“Art is the son of a Cuban immigrant who has found success as an entrepreneur and investor and views this as an opportunity to pay it forward by supporting a social equity applicant,” Carter Johnson, a consultant and the spokesperson for Connecticut Social Equity, said in a statement. “Connecticut Social Equity LLC’s mission is to grow, create and sell high quality products at great locations and give back to their local community.”

As Van Scoy’s backer, Linares owns at least 5 percent of the business as defined by state statute, Johnson said.

“Disproportionately impacted areas” are census tracts with either a significant criminal conviction rate for drug-related offenses or an unemployment rate greater than 10 percent.

If Connecticut Social Equity goes on to get final approval, “their facility will be set up within the time frame dictated by statute,” 14 months after obtaining the license, Johnson said. The company “is in discussions to locate the cultivation facility in a disproportionately impacted area in Connecticut outside of Stamford,” she added.

Faye did not respond to requests for comment. Simmons declined to comment on her husband’s business through a spokesperson.