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Massachusetts Cannabis Chief Offers Lessons To Connecticut

Cannabis bud
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Flower buds of Cannabis indica

The man overseeing marijuana sales in Massachusetts says Connecticut is facing a crucial moment in shaping its growing cannabis industry.

Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, spoke with entrepreneurs in Farmington Wednesday at a forum organized by the Hartford Business Journal and New Haven Biz.

He told Connecticut Public that the Bay State has struggled to help people harmed by the war on drugs participate in the industry.

“There’s no easy solution. I’ve been beating my head against this particular brick wall for three years, and I made some progress, but we’re not where we need to be. And so to me, that’s an indication that, you know, if Connecticut is serious about this, and I know that they are, I know it is, start from day one,” said Hoffman.

Possession of marijuana became legal in Connecticut on July 1. Retail dispensaries are expected to follow by the end of next year.

“The people we’re trying to help don’t have collateral, don’t have net worth, don’t have a lot of business experience,” said Hoffman. “So it’s got to be public money as well. It’s not just, well let’s get banks to do it. That’s not going to happen, in my opinion.”

Hoffman said Connecticut should foster public-private partnerships to provide start-up money for people from disadvantaged communities.

Jim Haddadin is a data journalist for The Accountability Project, Connecticut Public's investigative reporting team. He was previously an investigative producer for NBC Boston, and wrote for newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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