The State of Connecticut is another step closer to making medical marijuana a reality for patients, more than a year and a half after lawmakers approved the drug as a treatment for debilitating medical conditions.

medical-marijuanaAs of the Nov. 15 filing deadline, 21 prospective growers and 16 sellers had applied for licenses to produce and distribute cannabis. Now the state Department of Consumer Protection will weigh the merits of each application to approve a total of 26 dispensary locations throughout the state.

Only a few licenses will be issued at first, with more to follow later, state officials said.

“The department intends to award three producer licenses and between three and five dispensary licenses by early 2014,” said Claudette Carveth, spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Protection. “These licenses will be publicly announced.”

The Connecticut Legislature approved medical weed in May 2012, becoming the 17th state to do so. Although certain provisions of the law took effect right away, it has taken the state more than 18 months to process the initial applications.

A total of 20 states now allow medicinal pot, two of which also allow recreational weed. Rhode Island and New Jersey, two nearby states, also dragged their feet for months while instituting medical pot.

Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein released the names and proposed locations of the various applicants Nov. 15. While each application pinpoints a likely site, odds are good some of them will change.

One proposed dispensary, for example, would be in Monroe, but a one-year moratorium on marijuana-related businesses is in place there. That could delay a license or force the owners to adjust plans.

One dispensary operator, whose proposal for a dispensary in Fairfield was shot down by town planners, said he has plans elsewhere, though he wouldn’t reveal specifics when interviewed by the Danbury News Times.

“We just spent pretty much most nights for the last two months working tirelessly on our applications,” said David Lipton, president of Connecticut Wellness Centers LLC of Fairfield. “It has been a very intense period of collaboration. It was really like a big puzzle, from legal and accounting documents, to answers to specific questions from the department.”

There are certain requirements each applicant must meet in order to be approved for a license. Applicants must be able to put $2 million in escrow to guarantee performance of state requirements. There’s also a $25,000 application fee, plus another $75,000 licensing fee if selected. There are also marijuana testing requirements and security mandates.


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