On the 17th of June last year, Connecticut became the nineteenth state in America to legalize cannabis for adult use. The legislation allows cannabis use for adults 21 years and older. It also permits people to have up to one and a half ounces of cannabis in their possession and five ounces of weed at their homes. Despite this significant milestone, there has been plenty of back and forth concerning licensing in the Nutmeg State as a timeline was still in the works.
Connecticut legislators opted not to issue conditional or temporary licenses like other states. For this reason, the adult-use cannabis industry was put on hold for a while in the state. However, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) started accepting applications for various recreational cannabis licenses early this year. If all goes to plan, retail sales for adult-use marijuana will begin by the end of the year.
Still, despite the adult-use cannabis market drawing closer to becoming a reality in Connecticut, there are concerns over social equity programs in the state’s weed industry. Although the legislature’s provisions mandated that half of all licenses must go to social equity applicants, it came with a significant drawback. Licensing fees could get as high as $3 million.
Social equity applicants comprise people who have been harmed by prohibition. Incidentally, these are often people from marginalized communities, most of whom lack the financial muscle to afford the permits.
Connecticut’s Social Equity Council has been rendered powerless to act on the astronomical fees that have been a barrier for applicants since the price is included in the bill that the governor signed into law. Nevertheless, the licensing fee could be reduced by half if a business partners with a social equity partner.
If the trends from other legal recreational markets are anything to go by, the recreational market is expected to reap the rewards of legalizing adult-use cannabis. Although Connecticut’s market is unlikely to match mature industries like New York, it is expected to net nearly $1 billion in five years. That’s $250 million less than New York expected to reap within the same period.
Apart from the tax revenue that the state is in line to receive, a legal recreational cannabis market in Connecticut could create more than 16,000 jobs within five years. These employment opportunities span the entire cannabis supply chain.
This boost to Connecticut’s economy goes a long way in helping the state come out of a colossal financial deficit caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. Given that the cannabis market remained operational during the pandemic, it offers an excellent road to recovery for the state’s economy.
The future of cannabis is seemingly bright in Connecticut, with plenty of opportunities yet to be exploited. From the budding recreational and current medical markets to new avenues like marijuana accessories.