Marijuana has been legal for recreational use in Connecticut since 2021, and medicinal cannabis has been legal since 2012 for medical cardholders and caregivers. SB 1201 was signed into law in June 2021, which legalizes the home cultivation of weed, but this doesn’t begin until July 2023. At that time, an adult can grow up to twelve plants per residence. 

Recreational marijuana sales are finally launching in Connecticut in January; Governor Lamont announced last Friday. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has notified medical cannabis dispensaries with a hybrid license that they can begin to sell recreational marijuana products at 10 am on January 10, 2023. Find out more below. 

What will Connecticut residents be able to buy? 

Approximately eighteen months since the Governor signed the law legalizing recreational weed, officials on Friday gave the 30-day public notice of the opening day for the adult-use market. Up to forty retailers and various other marijuana-related businesses are expected to open by the end of 2023.

Initial cannabis sales will be up to one-quarter of an ounce of flower to ensure enough support for medical marijuana patients. Customers can purchase various products to reach the purchasing limit, which “will be reviewed over time and are in place to ensure businesses can maintain an adequate supply for both adult-use consumers and medical marijuana patients.” 

How Will Connecticut’s Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Compare to Maryland’s?

Connecticut’s upcoming adult-use marijuana sales are expected to generate significant revenue and create a thriving market. However, it remains to be seen how these sales will compare to Maryland’s established adult-use marijuana sales. Maryland adult-use marijuana sales have already proven to be lucrative and successful, making for an interesting comparison.

Governor Lamont’s Policy Changes

The news about the Connecticut recreational market launch comes one week after Rhode Island’s first recreational dispensaries opened. It follows Gov. Lamont’s announcement on Tuesday that the state will clear records of low-level marijuana offenses in January 2023. President Joe Biden and other White House officials praised the news.

Lamont previewed the timeline for the adult-use launch over the summer. The Governor has long supported legalization and celebrated the implementation of marijuana policy updates. He signed a budget bill in May that includes provisions to provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment.

“This is just a start,” stated Commissioner Michelle Seagull. “More retailers will open up over time as they build their businesses and get approval from us.”

Medical marijuana dispensaries in New Haven, Branford, Danbury, Meriden, Montville, Newington, Stamford, Torrington, and Willimantic, which have acquired a hybrid license, will be allowed to sell cannabis products to all adults.

“We’ll continue evaluating how things play out as the market opens. It’s tough to know what the demand may look like on those first days,” said Seagull.

State law requires a minimum of 250,000 square feet of growing and manufacturing space to be in place before retail cannabis sales can begin. Around one hundred marijuana-related businesses are moving through the Connecticut licensing pipeline, including social equity and lottery applicants.

“There was a lot of work that went into being able to make today’s announcement,” Commissioner Michelle Seagull told reporters at a Friday press conference.

Provisional license holders are currently working towards being operational, which includes finding space and obtaining local zoning approvals, said DCP deputy commissioner Andrea Comer. Those businesses are given fourteen months to acquire the final license.

“I anticipate that by the end of the first half of the year, we should be seeing some of those businesses ready to go,” Comer mentioned.

What does this mean for current and incoming marijuana businesses? 

Existing medical-use businesses had to pay hefty initial fees that went into a reinvestment fund for communities impacted by discriminatory federal drug policy. Comer said there are currently around fifty million dollars, and those funds are expected to grow. The council plans to work with the communities to evaluate the best uses for reinvesting funds, but there’s no timeline yet.

For new license holders to the market, the council held lotteries for licenses in several categories, including prospective growers, manufacturers, transporters, and retailers; half were designated for “social equity applicants” with income and residency requirements. 

“This wasn’t just about building a business but also contributing to the investment or reinvestment in those communities,” Comer stated.

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