Cannabis Retail Stores Won’t Open in Connecticut Until 2023

The long-awaited opening of recreational marijuana stores in Connecticut will likely be delayed until early next year. The state was targeting the end of this year for opening retail stores, but that timeline now seems unrealistic.

By law, there must be at least 250,000 square feet of approved growing and manufacturing space statewide before marijuana stores can open. For starters, the cannabis sold in the adult-use market is expected to come from the four existing medical marijuana producers in the state, which have applied for licenses to grow in the recreational market.

Three of the growers — Advanced Grow Labs, Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions and Curaleaf — have completed the necessary steps to convert their facilities to grow medical and recreational marijuana, the state’s Department of Consumer Protection announced Tuesday. The remaining producer, Theraplant, applied on November 10th and this application is still under review by DCP. The department is required by law to provide 30 days’ notice before the start of retail marijuana sales. A department spokesman said there was still no date for the notice to be released.

All four producers need to convert their colleges to serve the recreational market to ensure there is ample supply to open retail stores, otherwise the state would need to wait for new producers to become operational. Currently, there are approximately 50,000 medical marijuana patients in Connecticut, and by law, there must be an ample supply for them.
The DCP also announced Tuesday that seven medical marijuana dispensaries in the state have completed the necessary steps to receive licenses to sell recreational marijuana. Dispensaries include Affinity in New Haven, Bluepoint Wellness of Connecticut in Branford, C3 Torrington (Still River Wellness) in Torrington, FFD Newington, FFD Stamford, FFD Willimantic and Willow Brook Wellness in Meriden. All 18 existing medical dispensaries in the state were given the opportunity to apply for licenses to sell in both the adult-use and medical markets.
The state is completing its first round of cannabis licensing with dozens of businesses, from food and beverage to product packaging, slated for approval. As of Tuesday, the department had issued nine provisional grower licenses, six provisional microcultivator licenses and 27 provisional retail licenses.

Almost all of the state’s marijuana licenses are being issued through a lottery system, with few exceptions. Existing medical marijuana producers and retailers, for example, did not have to apply via lottery. The retail license type received the most interest in the initial licensing round, with over 15,000 applications submitted for the lottery.
Connecticut, which legalized marijuana for adult use in 2021, joins a growing number of states in the Northeast where recreational marijuana is legal. New York announced its first recreational marijuana retailers this week, while New Jersey opened its first retail stores in April. In Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2018, marijuana stores are bracing for blockbusters as neighboring states launch their markets for adult use.
The first full year of recreational marijuana sales in Connecticut could range between $300 million and $375 million, by some estimates.

Cannabis Retail Stores Won’t Open in Connecticut Until 2023

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