Legal recreational marijuana sales start in Connecticut

Jan 9, 2023, 2:54 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2023, 3:41 pm
CORRECTS IDENTIFICATION TO LYNN GOLDSTEIN FROM LAURA BASS WRIGHT - Lynn Goldstein of Norwich, Conn,...

CORRECTS IDENTIFICATION TO LYNN GOLDSTEIN FROM LAURA BASS WRIGHT - Lynn Goldstein of Norwich, Conn, left, is shown a cannabis diffuser she won by Kate Nelson, senior vice president of the Midwest and Northwest regions for Acreage Holdings, at The Botanist in Montville, Conn., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Bass-Wright was the first customer at the hybrid recreational and medical marijuana store on the the first day of recreational marijuana sales in Connecticut. (AP Photo/Sue Haigh)

(AP Photo/Sue Haigh)

MONTVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s first round of recreational cannabis sales for adults 21 and older kicked off Tuesday at seven existing medical marijuana establishments across the state, less than two years after Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation making Connecticut the latest state to legalize retail sales.

By the end of the day, state regulators reported more than $250,000 in sales generated during the first seven hours.

“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,” Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a statement.

While dozens of people waited in lines outside some dispensaries Tuesday morning to be the first customers, there wasn’t the huge crush of patrons seen in some states during the early days of legalized marijuana. At some dispensaries, patrons were urged to place orders online and pick them up at a certain time.

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.

Samuel Gabbey, a 32-year-old package delivery operations manager from Mansfield, was among the patrons who lined up Tuesday morning to be one of the first customers at the Fine Fettle Dispensary in Willimantic. He said he’s been waiting years for legalization in Connecticut and believes it’s better for people to buy from a legitimate shop with regulated product instead of buying marijuana from strangers.

“The day finally came where we can all just come here and get what we want and go home without having to worry about the police or anything,” he said. “So it’s a good day for people in Connecticut.”

Besides creating a regulated, safer product, Lamont, a Democrat, noted how the state’s legalization law also allows convictions for low-level marijuana crimes to be erased, many automatically. Nearly 44,000 such convictions have been erased since the start of the new year, officials said.

“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,” Lamont said in a statement.

Recreational sales were allowed to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. State-approved shops in Branford, Meriden, Montville, New Haven, Newington, Stamford and Willimantic were expected to open their doors to the general public on the first day. Two other approved dispensaries, in Danbury and Torrington, are expected to open at a later date.

In Montville, local state lawmakers and the mayor turned out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Botanist dispensary. Patrons received free T-shirts and coffee mugs, as well as personal assistance with making their selections.

Lynn Goldstein, 60, of Norwich, was the first recreational marijuana customer to make a purchase at The Botanist. While she didn’t intend on being the first in line and have her nearly $106 purchase documented by reporters, she was happy that she was. Goldstein was given a bag of goodies, including a $250 vaporizer.

Goldstein said she has suffered with chronic pain since 2011 and has been a medical marijuana customer. While it doesn’t take away all of her pain, she says cannabis can be a big help to her and other people with health issues.

“It makes me relaxed and sometimes sleepy and I just enjoy being a little pain free,” said Goldstein. But she had some concerns with legalization.

“I do worry about the young people because they don’t know how to handle it and they will be driving stoned, and it’s going to be very hard for police to figure out what’s what,” she said.

Twenty-one states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults over the past decade, even though it remains illegal under federal law. Since voters approved legalization in Maryland and Missouri in November, marijuana advocates have pressed forward with similar efforts elsewhere in the U.S., including in Ohio and Oklahoma.

As of Feb. 3, 2022, 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis products, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The list includes Connecticut’s three neighbors, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Kate Nelson, senior vice president of the Midwest and Northwest regions for Acreage Holdings, which owns The Botanist brand, said the Montville location sees about 200 to 300 medical marijuana customers daily. She predicted there will be a 150% uptick in sales during the first week of recreational sales, but acknowledged that will likely level off.

A second location owned by the company in Connecticut, located in Danbury, is expected to open in the coming weeks after local approvals are finalized.

“I think even before the 40 operators come online, you’ll start to see less of that excitement of something new and more so of kind of what the status quo will become,” Nelson said. “We’re in an area now in the country where there’s other adult-use states nearby. So it’s really going to be a focus of ours, in the state of Connecticut specifically, to make sure that this adult-use program has the product that it needs to have and we can support the industry … to make sure Connecticut sets themselves apart from other competing markets.”

Initial sales in Connecticut will be limited to one-quarter of an ounce (7 grams) of cannabis flower or its equivalent, in an effort to ensure there will be enough supply for medical marijuana patients. Different items can be purchased together to make up the one-quarter ounce. The state’s Department of Consumer Protection plans to watch retail sales and manufacturing supplies closely to determine when that amount can eventually be increased.

In addition the purchase price, customers must pay the state’s existing 6.35% sales tax; a 3% sales tax that benefits the host community; and a state tax based on the THC content, which ranges from approximately 10% to 15% of the sale price.

____

Associated Press writer Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

____

This story has been corrected to show the person speaking at the Montville store was Lynn Goldstein, not Laura Bass-Wright.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, step off Air Force One, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at H...
Associated Press

Ex-Twitter execs to face GOP questioning on Hunter Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are expected to question former Twitter executives about the platform’s handling of reporting on Hunter Biden, the president’s son, fulfilling a party promise to investigate what they have long asserted is anti-conservative bias at social media companies. Three former executives will be appearing Wednesday before the House Oversight and Accountability […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Uganda blocks operations of UN rights office in the country

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan authorities say they will not renew the mandate of the United Nations human rights office in the East African country, effectively blocking the group’s operations at a time of heightened concerns over rights abuses. In a Feb. 3 notice to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights […]
1 day ago
FILE - Designer Stella Jean accepts applause at the end of her womens Spring/Summer 2018/19 fashion...
Associated Press

Stella Jean quits Milan Fashion Week over lack of inclusion

MILAN (AP) — The only Black designer belonging to Italy’s fashion council is withdrawing from this month’s Milan Fashion Week citing a lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion, and on Wednesday announced a hunger strike out of concern that other minority designers associated with her will suffer a backlash. Stella Jean told The Associated […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden talks with Vice President Kamala Harris after the State of the Union address to...
Associated Press

Biden makes Wisconsin his 1st stop after State of the Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday was headed to Wisconsin, a battleground state he won by the slimmest of margins in 2020, to press his economic message and other themes from his State of the Union address in the window before his next big speech: announcing a possible reelection bid. Biden was set […]
1 day ago
FILE - People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Gr...
Associated Press

International team to present update on MH17 investigation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team is presenting an update Wednesday on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U...
Associated Press

China says it was smeared in Biden State of the Union speech

BEIJING (AP) — China says it was smeared in U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that repeatedly mentioned competition between the two countries. China does not fear competing with the U.S. but is “opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship in terms of competition,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Legal recreational marijuana sales start in Connecticut