December 2022 Regional Cannabis News: NY and CT Inch Closer to Adult Use Sales

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Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient regional news round-up highlighting significant developments in the tri-state area and Pennsylvania. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get the most recent edition when it’s published.

New York has issued its first adult-use dispensary licenses, New Jersey is putting the finishing touches on its social equity program, and Connecticut could see adult-use sales begin as soon as next year. Each of these developments have brought with them a very real sense that the northeast cannabis industry is finally taking a huge step forward, and we’re absolutely loving it. This month’s regional news round-up spotlights the exciting developments happening in each of these states, keeping you in the loop about the rise of adult-use cannabis in the tri-state area and the Northeast region.

New York awards first recreational retail licenses

The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved the first round of recreational cannabis dispensary licenses at a meeting on Monday, November 21st. This news comes a year and a half after the state legalized adult-use cannabis and marks a significant milestone for the state’s industry.

According to reports, the Office of Cannabis Management received more than 900 applications for adult-use dispensary licenses. The CCB approved 36 provisional licensees, including 28 qualifying individuals and eight non-profit Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) applicants. At least one CAURD license was granted in each available region of the state. 

All 36 provisionally-approved dispensaries will receive government-funded turnkey storefronts to operate out of once the market formally launches. Regulators announced that they would allow qualifying businesses to begin sales via delivery while waiting for contractors chosen by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to build their storefronts.

Initially, 150 social equity licenses were supposed to be available. However, a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily blocking license approval in five regions of the state, including Central New York and Brooklyn. As of this writing, there is no news yet about when the block will be further assessed or lifted. 

New Jersey CRC hears input on social equity

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) gathered for a second public hearing to determine how officials will invest social equity fees raised from legal cannabis sales. The CRC hopes to use these funds to invest in communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs and is seeking public comment as to how best to allocate the money.

The state currently adds a $1.10 social equity fee per ounce to all cannabis sold. In January 2023, that fee will increase to $1.52. New Jersey has already brought in more than $219,000 through the social equity excise fees on more than $80 million in sales.

By law, at least “70% of the sales tax collected on adult-use cannabis sales will also go towards communities affected by marijuana-related arrests to further these social justice and equity goals,” according to the press release from Governor Phil Murphy

Advocates from all over the state gathered to share ideas and suggestions for how to allocate the social equity fees, including everything from funding for maternal health care for Black residents to investing in youth mental health support to establishing violence reduction initiatives.  

“We should reverse how money was shifted from communities and individuals to law enforcement authorities,” said advocate Jo Anne Zito at the meeting. “My education, employment, housing, mobility, wealth, and family stability were all negatively affected by cannabis arrests — all while Bergen County and the state required me to pay fees and fines.”

The panel will hold one final public hearing to compile feedback into a report for the governor and legislature before making a determination on how the funds will be used. 

Connecticut could see adult use sales as soon as 2023

Adult-use sales of cannabis could begin in Connecticut as soon as 2023 after more than a year of waiting. According to the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), the state is within months of sales, waiting only on the expansion of cultivation capacity throughout the state.

Connecticut state law requires at least 250,000 square feet of growing and manufacturing space to be approved for operation before retail sales can begin, and it is nearing that target now. A press release from the DCP issued on November 22nd said adult-use sales could follow the successful conversion of all four existing medical marijuana producers or the launch of an additional cultivation facility. DCP received that fourth producer conversion application on Nov. 10th, and is currently working with the applicant to review the necessary components for a successful conversion. 

Should that application and conversion be successful in the coming months, Connecticut’s adult-use industry could get off the ground by early 2023, allowing for the first sales of adult-use cannabis since it was legalized in June 2021.

Ring in the new year with a northeast cannabis celebration

Major progress in the tri-state area is a fitting way to ring in the new year, and it means that 2023 will be filled with a flurry of activity. Stay in the loop with all the most important trends and developments impacting your cannabis business by following CWCBExpo’s news updates and informative industry guides.

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