Ginne-Rae Clay, Connecticut’s interim executive director of the Social Equity Council.

The clock is officially ticking toward Feb. 3 when the first applications for Connecticut’s adult-use cannabis market become available, after the state’s Social Equity Council approved its technical assistance plan on Jan. 4.

“Now that the council has approved the technical assistance plan, that starts a 30-day window after which the Department of Consumer Protection will post the applications,” said SEC chair Andrea Comer. “Following the applications, there will be a period of time for those coming in as social equity applicants to apply. Shortly thereafter the lottery process will kick off.”

The technical assistance plan was the final component to the state’s social equity plan for its emerging adult-use cannabis market, meaning applications will be available on Feb. 3.

The first round of applications will be for cultivator licenses from Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIA), previously identified by the council based on socioeconomic factors and cannabis-related drug arrest rates. DIAs account for 215 of the state’s 833 census tracts, according to state data.

  • In order to qualify for a social equity application, businesses must be under no less than 65% control of individuals from DIAs with incomes that do not exceed 300% of the state’s median household income.
  • Cultivator licenses will initially be exclusively available to social equity applicants. 
  • Current license holders in the state’s medical cannabis program will not be subjected to the lottery process, neither will social equity applicants that seek to partner with existing medical operators.
  • Available licenses for the other eight types will be evenly split between social equity and general applicants, and will be awarded through a lottery.

Social Equity Cultivators and retail applicants will get the first shot at applications on Feb. 3. Applications for additional license types will become available in subsequent weeks:

Feb. 3 – Social Equity Cultivator applications open

Feb. 3 – Retail applications (6 social equity, 6 general)

Feb. 10 – Micro-cultivator (2 social equity, 2 general)

Feb. 17 – Delivery (5 social equity, 5 general)

Feb. 24 – Hybrid medical/recreational retailer (2 social equity, 2 general)

Mar. 3 – Food and beverage manufacturing (5 social equity, 5 general)

Mar. 10 – Product manufacturing (3 social equity, 3 general)

Mar. 17 – Packaging licenses (3 social equity, 3 general)

Mar. 24 – Transportation (2 social equity, 2 general)

The Department of Consumer Protection expects to announce an additional round of application periods in late 2022.

“The initial number of available licenses is not a cap, but a starting point for opening the adult-use cannabis market in an effective, measured and thoughtful way,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle Seagull, in a released statement. “We know people are anxious to apply and see this market open, and we are hopeful that making this information available will help applicants as they begin to prepare for the lottery process.”

Approval of the technical assistance plan for prospective social equity applicants was the final hurdle before the state could begin its application process.

The office of the Social Equity Council will oversee the technical assistance plan, which will primarily focus on sharing information with applicants. This approach is intended to protect SEC employees from lawsuits over rejected applications, according to interim Executive Director Ginne-Rae Clay.

“I don’t know if my staff is going to help people complete their applications as much as they will be directing them to resources to complete the application,” she said. “My concern is with me or my staff sitting with someone and having a conversation about their application and completing the application that if they are not selected for the lottery or they are denied a provisional license because of their application, that we might take on some of that liability.”

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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...