Live picture of Connecticut’s cannabis application holding room. Credit: Christa Dodoo / Unsplash

Connecticut is officially wading through 37,295 applications for adult use cannabis licenses, of which no more than 97 could possibly be awarded in the state’s first round of adult use cannabis licensing. The state’s Social Equity Council is poised to at least start the approval process for 41 prospective cultivators and aspiring holders of 28 slots held open for social equity-only holders of eight different types of cannabis licenses in coming weeks. 

If you think that’s a lot of numbers to keep in your head, there’s more.

For the 28 social equity-only slots, the state received 23,487 applications. Those applications are for licenses, which cover retail, manufacturing, packaging, delivery, and others. Before they can be vetted for social equity status, they will be selected through a lottery. Social equity status is provided to those disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, specifically people who live in one of designated 200 census tracts in the state.

Every social equity applicant that does not successfully win a license in the social equity lottery then gets a second chance in the general lottery. 13,808 applicants would get that second chance.

“There have been subsequent lotteries since the initial lottery,” said a spokesperson from UConn, whose Department of Pharmacy Practice conducted the lottery, for retail licenses using an online randomizer. Subsequent lotteries were conducted by the Department with different methods, according to the UConn spokesperson, though they were unable to clarify how many of those lotteries had been conducted as of June 30. 

The list of lottery winners will then be sent to consulting firm CohnReznick, which will evaluate the applicants and their documentation to determine social equity status. That will then be relayed to the Social Equity Council in a report prior to the council’s vote on approval.   

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. The Social Equity Council will next meet on Tuesday, July 12. 

The state has said that a subsequent round of applications and lotteries will take place next fall. 

An additional 28 licenses will be made available to general applicants once the social applicants are chosen. Those who fail to earn a social equity license will automatically be included in the general application lottery. 

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.

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.

In an increasingly common trend toward closed sessions from the council, 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.

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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...