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Connecticut regulators approve 11 new lottery and social equity applications to sell cannabis

Jeff Chiu

The Connecticut Social Equity Council has reached its cap for approving equity joint venture applicants to retail legal cannabis.

Those six approved applicants can be “licensed to purchase cannabis from producers, cultivators, micro-cultivators, product manufacturers and food and beverage manufacturers and to sell cannabis to consumers and research programs.”

As equity joint venture applicants, these retail locations are at least 50% owned by people who meet income requirements and are from communities disproportionately impacted — by drug convictions or an unemployment rate greater than 10%. They have partnered with established medical marijuana producers or dispensaries in their application.

“Equity joint ventures are ongoing,” Ginne-Rae Clay, the council's interim executive director, said during its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7, where 11 new lottery and social equity applications were approved.

“We anticipate that October could be the final votes on social equity applications,” she added.

As of September 7, the council has approved nine joint equity venture applications and denied 24.

Currently, 11 cannabis companies in a consolidated case, and a separate case brought by Farmington’s Core Cult LLC, are suing the state for wrongful denials of their applications. The council did not comment publicly on the pending litigation — only in executive session.

However, as the state rolls out its legal retail cannabis market, the council plans to use a workforce development rubric to assess applications.

“The rubric is not intended to discount anyone’s ability to get a license but to ensure that their workforce development plans are robust and would meet the standard that the council had established through the use of the rubric,” said Kelli-Marie Valleries, the council’s workforce committee chair.

If any individual score receives less than a “meets expectations,” the applicant will be asked to “come back with an additional response.” Reaching the 70% threshold on the rubric will result in an approved application, regardless of any feedback on individual scores or the application.

The council also denied a delivery service and micro-cultivator, which grows and sells cannabis “at an establishment that is between 2,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet of grow space.” The council already reached its maximum approvals of two for these small cannabis producers.

Another way cannabis businesses are receiving approvals is through a lottery. The council approved a food and beverage application and denied four. They approved two of three product manufacturer applications, approved a transporter application and denied another, and approved a hybrid retailer, which sells both cannabis to over 21 consumers and medical marijuana products.

The council will reconvene on September 22.

Kalleen Rose Ozanic is a former intern at WSHU.