US (CT): Critics say cannabis equity partnerships favor large corporations

Under state law, the number of dispensaries a person can open in Connecticut is limited to one and, in some cases two, but some of the largest cannabis companies in the country are planning to open as many as six retail stores.

This has raised questions about the fairness of a legalization initiative that was intended, at least in part, to provide economic opportunity for groups disproportionately impacted by drug prosecution.

State statutes were amended last year to allow some individuals who partner with large companies only a single cannabis dispensary, but the companies they partner with are allowed two for every medical cannabis dispensary they already manage. This has enabled operators of medical cannabis dispensaries the chance to open multiple locations.

"The way I see it, it's really nothing more than a written invitation for the deepest-pocketed vultures to swoop in for more shameless cash-grabbing. That's all it is," Adam Lewis said during a recent interview. Lewis, of New Britain, is a cannabis user who testified before the Social Equity Council when the law was being discussed. "They're literally using disproportionately affected folks as a token."

State Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, said the legislature was "trying to allow people a foothold into the market," but also that "at a certain point, we also recognize that the laws of capitalism would be central." "I don't know how much these larger conglomerates becoming such outsized players in the equity market was really what we had envisioned," Elliott said.


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