How to Open a Dispensary in Connecticut
Are you wondering how to open a cannabis dispensary in Connecticut? This page is dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest news and information relevant to opening a cannabis business in Connecticut. This includes helpful insights on what is to come next for the state.
In early 2020, former House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Senate President Martin Looney introduced a recreational cannabis legalization bill proposed by Gov. Ned Lamont. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 legislative session stalled, as legislative leaders were forced to shutter their offices for the time being. Gov. Lamont has expressed his desire to move forward with legalization in 2021.
Recent findings support this move for legislation. In a recent survey, 61 percent of Connecticut voters favored cannabis legalization (65 percent when an allowance for personal cultivation is included). Meanwhile, another study indicated that cannabis legalization and regularization would lessen the pandemic’s negative impact on Connecticut’s economy, both in terms of employment and tax revenue.
The Opportunity Size
Numbers from Statistica.com project that marijuana sales in Connecticut will reach about 160.3 million U.S. dollars by 2025. With a population size projected to reach approximately 3.55 million in 2021, it’s evident the state will be a hot market to start a cannabis business.
The legalization of marijuana in the state will have significant effects on its projected tax revenue. A fiscal analysis pegs the state’s projected tax revenue at $15.7 million come 2023 and around $60 million the following year. Come 2026, legalization will reportedly generate an additional $29 to $55 million in income taxes, depending on the chosen tax structure and whether Connecticut spends or saves the revenue.
Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws
As medical marijuana and recreational rules start to change in a state, it is very common for towns and municipalities to have their own rules for what is allowed and what is not. It is expected that some communities will be in strong support of the state legislation, others will demonstrate not-so-strong support, and others will outright disagree with the state’s decision.
As of this writing, only medical cannabis is legal in the state of Connecticut, with 18 medical-cannabis dispensaries serving 48,206 patients. In this section, we will keep you up to date on all the relevant changes in the 169 towns of Connecticut, in terms of their own stances, restrictions, or outright bans pertinent to recreational cannabis.
On June 1, 2012, the state legalized medical marijuana in Connecticut by enacting House Bill 5389. When Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5389, Connecticut became the 17th state to enact an effective medical marijuana law.
Designed to allow truly sick patients easier, legal access to medical marijuana, the program protects both patients and caregivers from arrest and prosecution, provided they (1) have a valid registration card and (2) obtained the medical marijuana from the patient’s registered dispensary.
The law prohibits any person from representing or acting as a licensed dispensary without a license from the Commissioner of Consumer Protection. It is the Commissioner who shall determine the necessary number of dispensaries needed in the state, as well as the requirements for obtaining a license.
Initially, the law did not allow minors to participate in the program. However, when Gov. Malloy signed HB 5450 on May 17, 2016, young patients were allowed to qualify for certain types of medical marijuana. This began in October 2016. Additionally, the department expanded the program with six new conditions. Generally, Connecticut residents with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and more can qualify for medical cannabis.
Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Cannabis Business Opportunities
Since its inception, the number of registered patients in Connecticut has grown to 49,513 patients as of this publishing. However, no new license applications for medicinal marijuana are being accepted at this time.
Medical Cannabis Dispensary Application Fee and Guidelines
Alongside the registration materials, applicants for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary License must submit a non-refundable, non-transferable initial fee of $100. There is also an annual renewal fee of $100.
Meanwhile, applying for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Facility License comes with an initial application fee of $1,000, a registration fee of $5,000, and a renewal fee of $5,000, all of which are non-refundable.
For a comprehensive list of guidelines on starting a Medicinal Marijuana Business in Connecticut, you can check here.
Recreational Use/Adult Use Dispensary
Gov. Lamont first sponsored an adult-use cannabis regulation bill in February 2020. Introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, the proposal offers “a comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of marijuana, adding to the legislature’s past efforts”. The bill received a March 2 hearing in the Judiciary Committee; however, the schedule was disrupted due to the pandemic.
The earliest start date for legalization is July 1, 2022. However, it can only take place once the Department of Consumer Protection, with an “Equity Commission” to oversee the legal cannabis market, makes recommendations to the legislature on regulation and sales in 2021. Gov. Lamont confirmed in his Jan. 6 State of the State address that the pursuit of legalized recreational marijuana as a new source of revenue for Connecticut is indeed in his plans.
If the effort to pass legalization through the state legislature in 2021 does not come to fruition, House Speaker Matt Ritter will propose a constitutional amendment on Connecticut’s 2022 ballot, leaving voters to decide. This will, again ultimately depend on the outcome of Gov. Lamont’s pursuit of recreational cannabis legalization in 2021, as confirmed in his State of the State address.
Should marijuana be successfully legalized in Connecticut, it will mean a high potential for growth. The maturation of the marijuana market in Connecticut is expected to generate new jobs, spark GDP growth, and create hundreds of millions in new annual tax revenues. Legalization is also expected to curb the growth of the black market, protecting customers and the general public and cutting economic losses from residents crossing the border.
As the state expands their cannabis program, particularly the recreational program, we will be keeping up-to-date on all relevant news and legislation on opening a dispensary in Connecticut. By adding yourself to our Connecticut Cannabis Mailing List (Below), we will keep you updated on all relevant news that matters and not so easy to find news and comments based on Connecticut Legalization below. This includes but is not limited to:
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