(WTNH) – Connecticut’s Social Equity Council voted today on whether to let more than a dozen companies start growing recreational marijuana in Connecticut. The concern is making sure they are the right companies to help right the wrongs of the war on drugs.
“Our goal was and is, to affirm that social equity applicants are true owners of their businesses,” said the chair of the Social Equity Council, Andrea Comer at the start of the meeting, which was held virtually. “Promoting equity in the cannabis industry is our primary charge.”
An outside firm reviewed 41 applications and recommended 5 in Hartford, 3 in New Britain, two each in Bridgeport and Waterbury, and one each in Middletown, Manchester, Southington, and Stamford. The head of the council says the recommendations reflect businesses that can do the work, and that are at least 65% owned by local people, not big companies.
“So, they are evaluating folks to ensure that they meet the income threshold, that they lived in the disproportionately affected area for the requisite time period, and that the business itself reflects the 65% ownership for the social equity applicant,” Comer explained in an interview before the meeting.
For decades, the so-called War on Drugs disproportionately harmed communities of color. The Social Equity Council is trying to repair that damage. First, by making sure minority-owned businesses get into the cannabis industry. Second, by setting up a fund to help with other things in the community.”
“They can support entrepreneurs who want to open a bakery or a dry cleaner,” Comer said. “They can go for street improvements or homeownership programs.”
It will be up to the communities how those funds are used. As for the growers, their names were not announced today.
“Following the vote, the SEC team will send a communication to all applicants notifying them of their determination,” Comer explained.
Those that get approved then have to be checked out by the state. They hope to have dispensaries open by the end of the year.