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Connecticut dispensaries make their first recreational marijuana sales Tuesday

Molly Ingram
A customer purchases adult-use cannabis at Fine Fettle dispensary in Stamford. January 10 marked the beginning of legal recreational cannabis sales in Connecticut.

Nine dispensaries in Connecticut opened their doors Tuesday to make the first sales of recreational marijuana to adults aged 21 or older.

Governor Ned Lamont passed a bill that legalized cannabis in 2021. Connecticut is the 20th state to allow dispensaries to sell the drug for recreational use. The state plans to expand the number of stores later in the year.

Long lines formed early in the morning outside of dispensaries:

  • Affinity Health and Wellness in New Haven
  • Bluepoint Wellness of Connecticut in Branford
  • Still River Wellness in Torrington
  • Fine Fettle Dispensary in Newington, Stamford and Willimantic
  • The Botanist in Danbury and Montville
  • Willow Brook Wellness in Meriden

“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. “We’ve carefully crafted a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice and equity.”

People waiting in line to buy adult use cannabis.
Brian Scott-Smith
People wait in line to buy adult-use cannabis outside The Botanist dispensary in Montville.

In Stamford, Fine Fettle has been open for medical sales for over a year. Chief Operating Officer Cory Ravelson said recreational sales will provide multiple benefits to the state.

“I think Connecticut is doing everything they can by legalizing, providing a great medical program and safe access for adult-use cannabis as well,” Ravelson said. “That is going to be a great economic windfall for the state because of the tax. It's bringing this from the black market to a legal market that can be regulated, monitored, and that's creating tax generation.”

Fine Fettle COO Cory Ravelson.
Molly Ingram
WSHU Public Radio
Fine Fettle Chief Operating Officer Cory Ravelson outside the company's Stamford dispensary.

There are three different taxes on cannabis products in Connecticut. A 6.35% sales tax, a 3% sales tax dedicated to the city or town where the sale occurs, and a tax based on THC content, which ranges from 10% to 15% of the sale price.

State Representative David Michel, D-Stamford, was at Fine Fettle for opening day. Michel said the money collected from the tax should go toward “healthcare and education, education for sure."

"We're in a state where education is very linked to property tax," he said. "The more we do to take that away, the better our education will be in the state.”

Rep. David Michel of Stamford.
Molly Ingram
WSHU Public Radio
State Rep. David Michel, D-Stamford, outside Fine Fettle dispensary.

Kate Nelson, the senior vice president for the Midwest and New England region at Acreage Holdings, who own The Botanist medical marijuana dispensary in Montville, said Connecticut’s cannabis industry is excited to share their product with the state.

“We’re excited for the community to now have access on a larger scale and get to see the products that the state of Connecticut’s producers are making, that we’re able to sell. So, we’re thrilled," Nelson said. "Our team has done a phenomenal job in making sure we’re ready for this.”

Normally, The Botanist would serve around 350 medical marijuana patients on a daily basis. They believe with the new law they will probably see their daily customer numbers grow to around 1,500.

The Botanist Staff and Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel cut a ribbon, marking the start of adult-use cannabis sales.
Brian Scott-Smith
The Botanist staff and Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel cut a ribbon, marking the start of adult-use cannabis sales.

The first day of recreational sales came just over a week after Lamont erased more than 40,000 cannabis convictions.

Customers at Fine Fettle said the now-legal sales, paired with the expungement of records, signify a new era for the state. Ian, who asked to be identified only by first name, said the decision was especially important to the Black community.

Molly Ingram
A customer purchases cannabis at Fine Fettle.

“It's a big deal because of all the people who have been locked up, especially for people who look like me, my friends, family, this is a good opportunity,” Ian said. “As soon as it became a multi-billion dollar industry, all these congressmen switched over and started to push things forward, people like Boehner — now all of a sudden it's big business. And we've seen the model work in other places. And the fact is, cannabis has always been there, and it's here to stay.”

Michel, the state representative, said recreational sales beginning was just the beginning.

“I look at it as the beginning of the end of the war on drugs,” Michel said. “We've got 50,000 people's records expunged. That's a lot of people — but I still don't think it's enough. I think that we should have broadened the criteria for expungement by far.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.
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