The Connecticut Social Equity Council as it met online on June 7, 2022.

When Connecticut’s Social Equity Council (SEC) holds its next monthly meeting in three weeks, it is expecting to do so with the state’s first batch of cannabis applicants ready for social equity status approval.

The state received 41 applications for cultivation licenses in the three-month period it set for social equity candidates to apply exclusively, without being subjected to a lottery. Cultivation licenses require that applicants live in about 200 of the state’s 833 Census tracts that have been marked as disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Applicants must also come from households that have brought in no more than $235,332 in income in any of the previous three years.

Given the state’s $3 million application fee for cultivation licenses, the SEC is directed to ensure that individual applicants with corporate financial backers have a majority of control in the cannabis company.

At the very least, the SEC will also evaluate social equity lottery winners for retail licenses, which were selected about three weeks ago by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Pharmacy Practice. The Department will conduct subsequent lotteries, but said that they would take place as requested. The Department also indicated that the lottery method could change between license types.

The remaining adult use license types in the state are split evenly between social equity applicants and general applicants, both of which are selected through a lottery for the limited number of available licenses.

Today, June 22, marks the final deadline in the first wave of adult cannabis licenses.

The first round of applications began on May 4 for retail licenses. Additional types, such as delivery service, hybrid retailer, and product manufacturer became open for application in subsequent weeks, with transporter licenses bringing up the rear when they went online on March 24.

Those applications are also submitted to a lottery, whose results are then vetted for social equity status, before the general lottery can be conducted for the respective license types.

In short, six social equity retail lottery winners must be verified before the general retail license can be conducted.

The SEC is relying on contracted accounting firm CohnReznick to verify the social equity status of license applicants, for both aspiring cultivators and lottery participants.

There is no direct contract between the SEC and CohnReznick, according to the state’s Department of Administrative Services, but the state does have a broad contract with the firm for general accounting and auditing services.

The SEC approved the final process for social equity status review during its June 7 meeting, following a discussion about the rules that took place in an executive session closed to the public.

Every two weeks, CohnReznick will send a Summary Determination Report to the SEC that includes the number of applications reviewed, the number that met the social equity requirements, and the number that failed to meet them, with specifics on whether it was the residency, income or ownership and control requirements that were not met. The SEC’s members will have at least three days to evaluate the reports before voting on approval in a reoccurring special meeting. 

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...