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Welcome to CWCBExpo’s regional cannabis news update, your source for the latest happenings in cannabis legalization, trends, and sales across the Northeast. In this edition, we explore significant strides in cannabis, from groundbreaking moves toward social equity to the thriving market in Connecticut. Read on for some of the biggest developments shaping the East Coast cannabis industry.
NJCRC moves to prioritize social equity applicants in certain license categories and regions
The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) announced on June 1st that, in an effort to prioritize applicants who have prior cannabis convictions or live in economically disadvantaged parts of the state, it would exclusively consider social equity applications for one calendar year. Effective September 27th, priority will be given to social equity applicants applying for specific licenses, including wholesale, distributor, and delivery services.
While social equity applicants already receive priority in licensing, Commissioner Charles Barker pushed for the exclusive consideration of these applicants in an effort to help entrepreneurs who have been hurt by the War on Drugs.
“Based on our current framework, I don’t believe social equity businesses — those most harmed by the failed war on drugs, that represents the people and communities that we want to see in the game — they’re not seeming to make it through the process to be considered for an award, let alone open up a business,” Barker told New Jersey Monitor.
Beginning Sept. 27, 2023, anyone who is not a social equity applicant will be rejected through Sept. 27, 2024. The move will not affect people seeking cultivation, manufacturing, or retail licenses.
New York awards 36 new adult-use retail licenses
The recreational market in New York continues to grow as the state’s Cannabis Control Board recently awarded 36 new adult-use cannabis retail licenses. Among these licenses, seven have been granted to businesses in the Finger Lakes region, marking a significant step forward in expanding access to legal cannabis in the area.
The additional licenses were awarded following the settlement of a lawsuit that prevented the state of New York from issuing licenses to several regions, including Finger Lakes and Brooklyn. The news brings the total number of adult-use retail licenses in the state to 251.
While this announcement comes as great news to the approved dispensaries in the Finger Lakes region, there are still many applicants who are waiting for responses. Additionally, the specific timeline for these new licensees to begin operations remains unclear.
New York moves to shut down unlicensed dispensaries
In a major move for the nascent licensed cannabis market, the state is making moves to shut down cannabis dispensaries operating without a license. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a law in May 2023 which criminalizes selling cannabis products without a license, and enforcement of this law rolled out this month.
A joint task force between the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) began conducting inspections on June 7th. The OCM can now issue fines to cannabis companies operating without a license, with penalties that start at $10,000 and can rise as high as $20,000 per day.
Connecticut recreational sales reach a record high in May, home grow begins
According to recent data published by the State Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), Connecticut’s recreational cannabis market surpassed those of medical cannabis for the first time. The report revealed that adult-use cannabis purchases amounted to approximately $11.5 million, exceeding the $11.2 million generated from medical cannabis sales.
Adult-use cannabis was legalized in the state in July 2021 and adult-use cannabis sales officially began on January 10th, 2023. During the first month of the adult-use market, the state made more than $5 million from cannabis sales. In May 2023, retailers saw more than twice that amount. Combining both the medical and adult use segments, total cannabis sales for May reached $22.7 million, surpassing the previous monthly record of $22.1 million set in March.
Meanwhile, the state’s home grow provision is about to begin. Connecticut’s home grow rule allows non-medical consumers over the age of 21 to grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants at home beginning July 1, 2023. According to the state’s website, plants must be grown indoors and must not be visible from the street. People who grow their own plants must do so in their primary residence, where individuals under 21 cannot access the plants.
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