The Connecticut Social Equity Council, in the few moments it was not in closed session during its June 7, 2022 meeting.

Connecticut’s Social Equity Council is poised to recommend its first set of social equity applicants for provisional adult use cultivation licenses during its next meeting in July. The Council approved its process for evaluating social equity applicants in a June 7 meeting where a majority of the discussion took place in a closed executive session and for the first time in months, public comments were excluded.

“At the onset we wanted to provide a forum for social equity applicants and stakeholders to offer input on the prepossesses, specifically as we determined the criteria to establish social equity status and workforce development plans,” said SEC Chair Andrea Comer. “Now that those policies have been developed we’re shifting our focus to reviewing the applications that have been selected for considerations, planning for the coming legislative session and implementing the lower interest loan and accelerator programs.”

During the SEC’s earliest meetings in August 2021, the Council’s work was preliminary and  focused on staffing and starting the regulatory process. But by October of that year, public comments had become a fixture of the Council’s monthly meetings.

The Council’s two significant approvals from the meeting, an agreement between the SEC and the Department of Consumer Protection about how license rejection appeals are handled and how applications will be approved for social equity eligibility passed without public discussion following about 50 minutes of closed executive session.

The Council approved a memorandum of understanding between itself and the DCP pertaining to how appeals will be handled when applicants contest a denial. Although discussion of the agreement was confined to a closed session, DCP provided Grown In with a copy of memorandum following the meeting. 

[Download the MOU.]

As per the agreement, both DCP and the SEC agree to share documents or other materials related to license approvals in the event that either one of the two are sued in response to a rejected cannabis application. 

Under the new process to approve social equity eligibility, the SEC will vote to approve recommendations from contracted accounting firm CohnReznick, which was hired to evaluate applications for social equity eligibility. There was no public discussion during the meeting about whether the Council had decided to meet monthly or as needed to vote on those recommendations, but Chair Comer did announce the Council’s first vote on applicants would take place in July, implying that the Council settled on a monthly model.

Comer also noted that the state had received 41 applications for cultivation licenses, which are still under review by CohnReznick to confirm social equity status. The accounting firm will also offer recommendations on lottery winners, depending on how many drawings have been completed.

Next month’s meeting will feature numerous votes. Aside from recommendations for provisional licensure, the Council will also select a contractor for its social equity accelerator program from 14 bidders.

“The next step will be for the committee to rate, rank, interview and hopefully bring a recommendation into the July meeting,” said interim executive director Ginne-Rae Clay.

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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...