While some in the Connecticut cannabis community celebrate Tuesday’s long-awaited opening of the first cannabis stores for the non-medical public, Jocelyn Cerda will stay focused on the future, when she and her company hope to sell cannabis in Norwalk, in her hometown of Hartford, and in a third, unnamed city.
“We’re currently looking for spaces, and it’s been a journey,” said Cerda, a Hartford social entrepreneur and principal of Shangri-La CT Inc., which won three of the 12 retail licenses up for grabs in last year’s lotteries after submitting hundreds of applications at $250 a pop. “We’re looking forward to opening soon.”
Shangri-La and the other “social equity” partnerships – the key players in a system designed to make sure most cannabis businesses are run by local, non-wealthy owners from cities hurt badly by the war on drugs – are not among the seven medical cannabis stores opened for adult use.
For now, the social equity owners like Cerda suffer a disadvantage as the medical dispensaries enjoy a head start. But even some of the people advocating for the social equity owners say that’s okay. “We’re losing money every day that we don’t start that market,” said Ginne-Rae Clay, executive director of the state’s social equity council.
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