The Connecticut Social Equity Council on Thursday approved a list of 215 disproportionately impacted areas that will be prioritized for retail cannabis licenses and social equity programs, the CT Mirror reports. The state legalization law defines these areas as having either a historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses greater than one-tenth, or an unemployment rate greater than 10%, as determined by the Social Equity Council.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said the state regulations were about giving people from these areas a chance to gain a foothold in the new industry, which is expected to launch next year. The data defining the areas shows two-thirds of drug convictions between 1982 and 2020 took place in the tracts, despite that they contained just 20% of the state’s population.
“A lot of folks from better neighborhoods, they always can start with a group called ‘friends and family.’ Well, not all communities have folks they can go to for capital from friends and family. Well, we’re your friends and family, right here. We’ve got a group of folks who have investment experience, management experience, understanding of the communities, and the importance of social justice.”— Lamont via the Mirror
Social equity business applicants in Connecticut must be at least 65% owned and controlled by people who had an average household income of less than 300% of the state’s median household income over the last three tax years, and either be a resident of one of the communities identified by the state for at least five of the last 10 years or have spent at least nine years living in one of the areas before they turned 18-years-old.
Corrie Betts, the criminal justice chair of the Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP and member of the council, told the Mirror that he found it “just a bit troubling to be voting on a disproportionate area on our first meeting without really having” discussions about the impact of the War on Drugs in-depth prior to the vote.
The state is expected to begin accepting applications for social equity applicants to participate in the cannabis business accelerator program by October 1.
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