NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut’s first round of recreational cannabis sales for adults 21 and older began Tuesday at seven existing medical marijuana establishments across the state.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection said the state had recorded $251,276 in adult-use cannabis sales.
State-approved shops in Branford, Meriden, Montville, New Haven, Newington, Stamford, and Willimantic opened their doors to the general public on the first day. Two other approved dispensaries, in Danbury and Torrington, will sell recreational cannabis at a later date.
State officials said the seven retailers did not report any issues on opening day.
“We have had no reported issues at any of our retailers, and we are proud of the successful launch of the regulated adult-use market,” said Michelle H. Seagull, the commission of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. “We continue to remind consumers to be patient as they make their initial purchases, and to use these products responsibly, including taking into consideration the delayed onset of effects some of these products can have.”
As many as 40 dispensaries, along with dozens of other cannabis-related businesses, are expected to eventually open in Connecticut by the end of this year.
State officials said the Cannabis Analytic Tracking System will provide a real-time inventory of cannabis products available in Connecticut and prevent unlawful diversion of products.
Twenty-one states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults over the past decade, even though it remains illegal under federal law.
Recreational cannabis sales data will be available on or after the 10th of each month at ct.gov/cannabis, according to state officials.
News 8 visited a few of the hybrid dispensaries on Tuesday.
Fine Fettle Dispensary in Newington
Hundreds of people purchased recreational marijuana at Fine Fettle Dispensary in Newington. The line moved along with the help of 50 extra staff, including security.
The medical and adult-use cannabis shop opened three-and-a-half years ago for medical sales.
RISE Branford Medical Dispensary
It was a Caribbean-themed party at RISE Branford Medical Dispensary as a steel drum band played outside.
“It’s just an important day,” said Hannah Lacey of Lyme as she stood in line outside the East Main Street dispensary. “I just wanted to experience recreational use in Connecticut.”
Lacey was one of about 40 people lined up when RISE opened for adult-use sales. She said she has been to dispensaries in Colorado and Massachusetts.
“They’re very clean and well maintained and beautiful, and the staff is really friendly and helpful,” Lacey said.
RISE has been serving medical use customers since 2018 under the name Bluepoint Wellness Dispensaries. Customers walk in, step up to a touch screen kiosk and browse what they have to offer. Then they step up to the counter and get it.
“This is the culmination really in our country of the failed war on drugs,” explained Ben Kovler, the CEO of Green Thumb Industries, which owns RISE. “We’re out to show people that cannabis is a positive plant, creates connectivity and positivity, more well-being.”
Medical marijuana use is still the priority for many of the state-approved hybrid dispensaries. In fact, RISE has a separate line for medical use, so no one has to wait. There are also strict limits on how much adults use you can purchase, so they don’t run out for medical patients.
RISE is donating all of Tuesday’s profits to the Black Business Alliance to help offset the harm years of drug arrests have done to minority communities.
“Thank you again for thinking about equity, being a part of the community, and really investing in our community. That’s what it’s about today,” Black Business Alliance executive director Ann-Marie Knight told people at the opening ceremony.
Zen Leaf in Meriden
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-Conn.) was at Zen Leaf in Meriden to celebrate the start of recreational cannabis sales.
“We’re literally turning over a new leaf to grow our economy,” she said. “We expect more than 10,000 new jobs to be created in this industry. We’re also hoping to recapture the tax revenue that’s currently going to Massachusetts and New York.”