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CT cannabis entrepreneurs can start applying for adult-use industry licenses this week

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Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public Radio

The first application period for adult-use cannabis store licenses goes live this week via a state website. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will start accepting applications for disproportionately impacted area cultivators — and those hoping to open cannabis stores.

Qualified applications for retailers will go into a lottery system to then apply for a provisional license. During the first round, the state will award a dozen licenses: six for general retailers and six for applicants from communities most hurt by the war on drugs.

But what the application review process will look like is still unknown.

At its monthly full-body meeting, the state’s Social Equity Council voted to hire a third-party firm to outline the process of reviewing and verifying applicants.

In hopes of taking some weight off council members’ shoulders, some members thought it was best to keep the council out of the initial review process.

“There are a lot of concerns of conflict of interest in that situation,” said Ojala Naeem, a member of the council and the chair of the governance board. “And in addition to that, if we were reviewing applicants, there is concern that each and every council member would have to review each and every application to ensure that there is a just and fair process.”

By delegating that task, Naeem said, the council could speed up the process – which is already delayed ahead of an expected flood of applications in a matter of days.

The third-party firm would be hired with an initial budget of $125,000 and once the process is approved by the council, it would then weed out applicants who don’t qualify.

“It is my intention for that third party to review and verify income, residency, ownership and control based on the criteria set by the council,” said Ginne-Rae Clay, the council’s interim executive director. “Once they have verified, the application is either qualified or disqualified. The ones who are qualified would then go back to [Department of Consumer Protection] to possibly get a provisional license.”

The application period will last 90 days. So for those who begin applying Feb. 3, their applications must be in by May 4. The council hopes to have the review process up and running by March.

Applicants from disproportionately impacted areas or Census tracts in the state that have a historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses greater than one-tenth or an unemployment greater than 10% are not subject to a lottery.

Those interested in applying can find more information at ct.gov/cannabis 

Camila Vallejo is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. She is a bilingual reporter based out of Fairfield County and welcomes all story ideas at cvallejo@ctpublic.org.

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