In June 2021, Connecticut became the 18th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The use of medical marijuana, and medical marijuana dispensaries, has been legal in the state since 2012, so the state does have some existing legal, physical, and personnel infrastructure around the industry.
However, in order to accommodate and govern the recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut, the state will require time to expand its capacity, hire personnel, design and regulate product packaging, and process applications to award licenses to dispensary operators.
Under the new law, which went into effect on July 1, 2021, persons age 21 and older can now possess up to 1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams, of marijuana, or “cannabis plant material,” for recreational use.
But are edibles legal in Connecticut?
Edibles have previously been available in Connecticut, under strict guidelines, for patients approved for medical marijuana use.
Under the new law, “cannabis plant material” in edible or drinkable form – such as in the form of gummies, cookies, or THC-infused seltzer drinks, for example – would be legal for possession for recreational use, as well, so long as it does not surpass the approved amount of ounces / grams allowable under the new law.
Packaging for THC-infused edibles and drinks will be strictly regulated and consumers will be limited in their purchases based on grams / ounces per serving. Dispensary operators will be required to monitor sales carefully for compliance with possession limitations.
So while you’ll be able to now legally possess edibles in Connecticut, the law won’t exactly allow you to stock up on your favorite THC-infused products before the next Nor’easter hits the state.
Storage and transport restrictions also apply. The substance must be stored in a locked container within the person’s home or remain in a locked glove box or the trunk of their personal vehicle.
If you’re considering opening a dispensary in Connecticut, it’s important to understand Connecticut dispensary laws and how they will affect your business.
How to open a dispensary in Connecticut
Both recreational and medical marijuana use are now legal in Connecticut, under strict regulation and in limited quantities.
However, just because commercial retail cannabis is now legal in the state does not mean that you can open a dispensary wherever you want. The state statute allows for general legalization and provides provisions for governing its sale, use, and distribution, but it does not guarantee that it will be legal to sell anywhere in the state.
Retail cannabis dispensaries in Connecticut will still be subject to the governance and regulation of localities, which can determine whether or not the operation of recreational dispensaries will be allowed within their jurisdiction.
Numerous towns in Connecticut have already begun debating the issue of recreational retail of cannabis products and some have passed laws prohibiting it.
If you’re looking to open a recreational cannabis dispensary in Connecticut, it’s important to ensure the town where you are considering locating your business has not already passed a law barring it, and you’ll also want to explore what the town has been discussing, as well as gauge the level of community support — or opposition — for recreational cannabis dispensaries, as this could limit your ability to build, even if you do manage to obtain a license.
The following sections explore the licensure application process in greater detail.
How to apply for a dispensary license in Connecticut
If you’re wondering how to open a recreational dispensary in Connecticut, you will have to obtain a license to open and operate a dispensary. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is responsible for reviewing applications and issuing licenses for recreational dispensaries in Connecticut.
Applications for obtaining a Connecticut dispensary license are accepted on a time-limited basis, depending on how many outstanding licenses remain available for the various license classifications, and only a certain number of applications will be accepted during each open period.
Once applications are received, they are submitted into a lottery system. Those selected will then be reviewed in order. If an application is denied, reviewers will move on to the next application in the queue.
If your application is selected, you will be asked to complete a provisional license application. Approved applicants will be granted provisional licenses and will have 14 months from the issue date to obtain a fully operational license.
If you have a question regarding Connecticut dispensary laws, it’s important to contact the CT Department of Consumer Protection for the latest, most accurate information.
How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Connecticut?
Dispensary license cost in Connecticut varies, depending on your business classification.
The following highlights some of the more common non-social equity fees by classification, but more information can be found at CT.gov’s resource on cannabis. There are also social equity fees, depending on how you and your business is classified.
Building a dispensary in Connecticut
If you’re looking for a company to build a dispensary in Connecticut, it’s important to develop a strong business plan to determine the size and service capacity of your dispensary.
Once you’ve developed your business plan and established your business as a legal entity, you will want to contact Connecticut cannabis construction builders, like Grow America Builders, who can begin to work with you to design your dispensary and help you navigate state and local requirements that will govern your business and your build.
If you’re looking to open a dispensary that will include a grow room, then be sure to consider the specific needs of your build as it relates to sustaining a grow room, including temperature and humidity.
When building a grow room, it’s important to contract with grow room builders in Connecticut who understand all the requirements for your build, rather than just a general contractor who does not specialize in grow room and cannabis-related construction.
At Grow America Builders, cannabis design-build is what we do, and we have extensive experience constructing grow rooms for companies across America. We’ll design — and build — a grow room and recreational cannabis dispensary that meets your business needs and complies with Connecticut state regulation.