How to Open a Dispensary in Connecticut

Overview

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 insight on what is to come next for the state.

On June 17, 2021, the 50th Anniversary of War on Drugs, the state legislature approved a 300-page bill to legalize and regulate cannabis in Connecticut. The bill  took effect on July 1, 2021 with Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature.

Recent findings support this legislation. In a recent survey from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, 64 percent of Connecticut voters favored cannabis legalization. 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.

As it relates to Connecticut Dispensaries:

  • The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is responsible for cannabis businesses licensing and regulating.
  • For existing dispensaries, starting September 1, 2021, applications from medical dispensaries wanting to serve adult use will be accepted.
  • The Bill allows adoption of regulations to allow dispensaries and hybrid retailers to deliver to patients

In the most recent news, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which oversees the cannabis program, announced regulations for Adult-Use Cannabis on October 1, 2021. Effective date for the regulations is the 16th of October, 2021. The regulations define the parameters by which cannabis business licensees must operate. These rules and procedures aim to protect consumers by ensuring product quality, safeguarding minors, and preventing product diversion.

In February 2022, the DCP will start accepting applications for certain adult-use cannabis business licenses. Additionally, the Department is releasing the number of first lottery round licenses that will be available for each cannabis business type. The lottery application rounds will be staggered, with the first round being open for 90 days. 

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. 

Connecticut’s new recreational marijuana bill has this to say about local restrictions and laws:

  • The law permits municipalities to prohibit cannabis establishments within their jurisdiction and/or to reasonably restrict the number of cannabis establishments
  • It forbids municipalities from banning delivery of cannabis
  • Referendums are permitted on whether sale of marijuana for adult use should be allowed. At least 10% of voters must sign a petition.

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.

Medical Marijuana

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

As stated above, Connecticut’s S.B. 1201 — An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis was signed into law, making Connecticut the 18th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. The bill can be viewed here

The Department of Consumer Protection, which initially only manages the medical marijuana program, is appointed to also regulate adult-use cannabis in Connecticut.

Nine types of licenses will be available: retailer, hybrid retailer, cultivator, micro-cultivator, product manufacturer, food and beverage manufacturer, product packager, delivery service and transporter. It is planned that 50% of each type of license is reserved for social equity applicants.

Requirements To Get a Cannabis License In Connecticut

Here is what we know so far regarding the requirements to open a dispensary in Connecticut.

Adult Use Cannabis License Fees

Non-Social Equity Fees

  • Cultivator – Lottery $1000, Provisional $25000, License $75000
  • Micro-cultivator – Lottery $250, Provisional $500, License $1000
  • Retailer – Lottery $500, Provisional $5000, License $25000
  • Product Manufacturer – Lottery $750, Provisional $5000, License $25000
  • Food and Beverage – Lottery $250, Provisional $1000, License $5000
  • Delivery/Transport – Lottery $250, Provisional $1000, License $5000
  • Product Packager – Lottery $500, Provisional $5000, License $25000
  • Hybrid – Lottery $500, Provisional $5000, License $25000
 

Social Equity Fees

  • Cultivator – Lottery $500, Provisional $12500, License $37500
  • Micro-cultivator – Lottery $125, Provisional $250, License $500
  • Retailer – Lottery $250, Provisional $2500, License $12500
  • Product Manufacturer – Lottery $375, Provisional $2500, License $12500
  • Food and Beverage – Lottery $125, Provisional $500, License $2500
  • Delivery/Transport – Lottery $125, Provisional $500, License $2500
  • Product Packager – Lottery $250, Provisional $2500, License $12500
  • Hybrid – Lottery $250, Provisional $2500, License $12500 
 

Adult-Use Cannabis License Application Dates

You may apply for a cannabis license as early as February 3, 2022. Here is the initial application window for each license type:

  • February 3rd: Retailer, Equity Joint Ventures, Non-lottery Disproportionately Impacted Area Cultivator, Non-lottery Medical Marijuana Producer to Expanded Producer conversion, and Non-lottery Medical Marijuana Dispensary to Hybrid Retailer conversion 
  • February 10th: Micro-cultivator
  • February 17th: Delivery 
  • February 24th: Hybrid Retailer
  • March 3rd: Food and Beverage
  • March 10th: Product Manufacturer
  • March 17th: Product Packager
  • March 24th: Transporter 

No deadline exists for conversion requests or equity joint ventures. All the other applications will be open for 90 days. Each license category will have two lotteries: one for social equality and one for general. DCP will conduct the general lottery after selecting the social equity applicants through the lottery. Applicants approved for social equity as well as general lottery winners may apply for a provisional license. While applicants for most types of licenses will be put into a lottery, applicants for certain business licenses do not have to go through the lottery procedure.

When applying for a license to run a cannabis business, applicants are encouraged to send in the most complete and detailed application. Application submission should not be rushed, as there is no advantage to doing so early. Applications can be found at elicense.ct.gov. You may find more information on the requirements for each license type at ct.gov/cannabis. 

Future Plans

Marijuana legalization in Connecticut will mean 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 its cannabis program, particularly the recreational program, we will be keeping you 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:

  • How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Connecticut?
  • What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license and open a dispensary in Connecticut?
  • What special programs will be available?
  • And more

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