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Connecticut Launches Recreational Cannabis Sales

On Tuesday, Connecticut began regulating recreational marijuana sales. This was less than two year after legalizing cannabis use for adults. Seven shops now sell adult-use marijuana in Connecticut. All of these are existing dispensaries and have been granted hybrid retail licenses to provide recreational cannabis.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont approved legislation that legalized recreational marijuana. This bill ended the prohibition against adults aged 21 or older possessing cannabis and created a regulatory framework to allow for adult-use cannabis sales. It also contained restorative justice measures and social equity provisions, which led to nearly 43,000 cannabis-related convictions being expunged last week. Democrats led Connecticut’s effort to legalize recreational marijuana. The governor and other Democrats argued that cannabis regulation would benefit consumers and communities affected by enforcement of punitive drugs laws.

“Today marks a turning point in the injustices caused by the war on drugs, most notably now that there is a legal alternative to the dangerous, unregulated, underground market for cannabis sales,” Lamont said in a statement on Tuesday.

At 10 AM on Tuesday, Branford, Meriden and Montville will be opening their adult-use marijuana stores. Torrington and Danbury will soon be opened. Media reports claim that up to 40 cannabis stores will open in the next year.

Transition to a Regulated Cannabis Industry

Adam Wood, president of the Connecticut Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, said that Connecticut’s regulated marijuana industry is expected to create about 10,000 jobs for workers in the state over the next few years. The president of the Connecticut Cannabis Chamber of Commerce stated that marijuana will bring in hundreds of million dollars of new revenue, which will benefit those communities that were harmed almost a century ago.

“Today is historic, but the real story is about the benefits to come that will transform lives and communities,” Wood said in a statement.

Verano Holdings is a state-based cannabis company with operations across 13 states. In 2021, Verano acquired Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions (CT Pharma) to enter the Connecticut medical marijuana marketplace. On Tuesday, Verano Holdings launched adult-use marijuana sales in Connecticut at the Zen Leaf dispensary in Meriden, which was previously Willow Brook Wellness. George Archos, Verano co-founder and CEO, said that the company “is proud to stand alongside Connecticut residents in celebration of the end of cannabis prohibition.”

“Legal cannabis in Connecticut will have a positive impact on the economy and local communities, and we’re honored to celebrate this historic moment in the Constitution State,” Archos wrote in an email to Chronic News. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Governor Ned Lamont, the Department of Consumer Protection, local communities, our team members, medical cannabis patients and advocates for making this exciting day a reality.”

In addition to the Zen Leaf dispensary in Meriden, Verano’s operations in Connecticut include CT Pharma, a 217,000-square-foot cultivation and processing facility in Rocky Hill, and Caring Nature in Waterbury, a medical dispensary that will soon begin adult-use sales under the Zen Leaf retail brand.

Purchases of recreational marijuana are limited to seven grams

To ensure sufficient merchandise to meet the needs of medical marijuana patients, retailers will limit sales of recreational marijuana to a maximum of seven grams. This is approximately a quarter of an inch of marijuana flower. To determine when adult-use marijuana purchase caps will be lifted, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will inspect cannabis supplies in Connecticut.

Acreage Holdings is a New York-based multistate retailer that runs the Botanist mix of medical and recreational marijuana retail store in Montville. Kate Nelson, senior vice president of the company’s Midwest and Northwest regions, said that she expects the dispensary’s previous customer count of 200 to 300 patients per day to increase by about 150% during the first week of adult-use cannabis sales. After the initial thrill, however, sales will likely slow.

“I think even before the 40 operators come online, you’ll start to see less of that excitement of something new and more so of kind of what the status quo will become,” Nelson said. “We’re in an area now in the country where there’s other adult-use states nearby. So it’s really going to be a focus of ours, in the state of Connecticut specifically, to make sure that this adult-use program has the product that it needs to have and we can support the industry … to make sure Connecticut sets themselves apart from other competing markets.”