Connecticut's new adult-use industry managed to sell more than a quarter million dollars worth of legal weed on the very first day of sales.
This Tuesday, seven of the state's existing medical marijuana dispensaries got the green light to begin selling recreational pot to adults aged 21 or older. Hundreds of customers placed online pre-orders for adult-use bud at each of these locations, and lines were already stretching around the block when the stores opened for business at 10am. Within seven hours, these seven shops sold $251,276 worth of adult-use cannabis, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
“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 DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull in a press release. “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.”
Connecticut was one of four states that passed adult-use cannabis legalization laws in 2021. The state's prohibition laws came to an end last July, making it legal for adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces of pot in person, or up to 5 at home. Over the course of 2022, the state allowed each of its 169 municipalities to vote on whether or not to allow legal pot shops to open in their jurisdictions, and over 55% chose to do so. And on January 1st of this year, state courts also expunged nearly 44,000 cannabis-related criminal records.
“Today marks a turning point in the injustices caused by the war on drugs, most notably now that there is a legal alternative to the dangerous, unregulated, underground market for cannabis sales,” Governor Lamont said in a statement. “We’ve carefully crafted a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. I look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure that this industry remains inclusive and safe as it develops.”
In order to get a jump on the lengthy process of licensing new adult-use businesses, Connecticut officials decided to allow recreational sales to begin at specific medical dispensaries. Regulators planned for sales to begin in 2022, but ended up delaying that start date back until this January. Two more dispensaries will also start selling adult-use pot in the very near future, and up to 40 exclusive adult-use retailers are expected to open before the end of this year.
New Jersey, another state that legalized weed in 2021, also chose to kickstart its adult-use industry by allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling recreational bud. Regulators got the ball rolling quickly, and legal sales began within a year. But New York and Virginia, the two other states that legalized weed back in 2021, chose to take the long way around. Virginia lawmakers deliberately put off adult-use sales until 2024, and New York set up a plan to offer exclusive adult-use licenses to business owners who had previously been arrested for minor cannabis crimes.
New York's launch plans were dragged out by endless delays and legal challenges, though, and have barely got underway. At present, the state only has one state-licensed adult-use shop to serve over 20 million residents. In a recent radio interview, Governor Lamont lambasted his neighbors' “crazy” decision to start with only one legal retailer, Marijuana Moment reports.
Lamont also joked that his biggest concern about the adult-use sales launch was whether or not he would be able to get a place in line at a dispensary. The governor admitted that he hadn't actually gotten high in “many, many years,” but previously suggested that he may eventually light up some of his state's legal wares.