(WTNH) – Another big step forward for Connecticut’s legal marijuana industry. We now know the names of the 16 growers that are getting the green light from the state to move forward with their applications.

The 16 businesses come from all over the state and were qualified through the Social Equity Council. The goal of that panel is to make sure people from communities disproportionally impacted by the war on drugs have a chance to become leaders in the new cannabis industry.

“That is really I think unique in the sense that Connecticut launched this market with social equity in mind,” said Andrea Comer, chair of the Social Equity Council. “So, this is hopefully going to be an opportunity for residents of those communities to have a business, to reinvest in their communities, to hire people from their communities, and really reimagine what those distressed communities might look like.”

Moving forward, the 16 applicants and their backers will undergo background checks. Once the review is complete, the qualifying applicants will have to pay certain fees.

It’s expected that the process could take anywhere from four to six months. Cannabis was approved for adult use in Connecticut in June of 2021. Retail sales are anticipated to begin in the state at the end of this year.