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Long lines could greet Connecticut's first recreational cannabis customers

On the first day of recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts, Steve Jones, 21, of Simsbury, CT, looks back at people entering while waiting in line at New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton, MA on Nov. 20, 2018.
Michael Swensen / Boston Globe
Mother cannabis plants are tended to by a trimmer specialist in a grow room at Curaleaf’s cannabis production facility in Simsbury, Connecticut, on Aug. 24, 2022.

Connecticut’s first retail recreational cannabis sales are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Nine medical marijuana operators have successfully completed the steps needed to expand their businesses to include the new market for adults 21 and over. As many as 40 more retailers, along with dozens of other marijuana-related businesses, could open by the end of 2023.

Kristin Souza, a cannabis advocate and owner of Sugar Leaf Boutique in Middletown, said some retailers are expecting long lines.

“It has happened in other states almost every time,” Souza said, referring to the first day of recreational marijuana sales. “There were people that were excited about it, and they were sleeping outside to get in.”

The state Department of Consumer Protection said initial recreational sales will be limited to 1/4-ounce of cannabis flower, or its equivalent, per transaction. Those transaction limits will be reviewed over time, but they are in place to ensure adequate supply for both adult-use consumers and medical marijuana patients, who will be allowed to purchase up to 5 ounces per month.

Even though there are transaction limits, state officials said dispensaries will not track each sale.

“So a customer could potentially go to one dispensary, get their quarter-ounce and then go to another dispensary,” Souza said.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in New Haven, Branford, Torrington, Newington, Stamford, Willimantic, Danbury, Montville and Meriden successfully completed the necessary steps to convert to a “hybrid license” and therefore will be allowed on Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. to sell cannabis products to all adults — not just people with medical marijuana cards.

They have also met local zone requirements. Roughly 50 of the state’s 169 cities and towns have so far issued a prohibition or moratorium on cannabis establishments.

Connecticut Public Radio All Things Considered host John Henry Smith spoke with Souza in December. Listen to their entire interview above.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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