Last week, New Jersey and New York regulators took each other to task over which state approached their adult-use marijuana market rollout better. Now, Connecticut’s governor is joining the rhetorical rumble after his state launched recreational sales on Tuesday, entering the tri-state war of words on cannabis.
Hours before Connecticut’s first recreational shops opened their doors, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) reflected on the adult-use program in New York, which involved just one storefront late last month, saying that the limited launch “seemed crazy to me.”
Lamont said in an interview with PLR radio’s Chaz and AJ show that he’s confident his state was prepared to start the market, with purchasing limits imposed on adult consumers to ensure access for medical cannabis patients. Officials also encouraged patients to buy what they needed ahead of the launch in the event that demand proved greater than expected.
“I’m not as worried about the supply and demand,” the governor said, adding that he feels that pricing and quality control will entice consumers to abandon the illicit market for regulated shops. “I think we’re going to put the underground market out of business over a period of time.”
But with respect to neighboring New York, Lamont said that regulators’ decision to start recreational sales with just one shop in Manhattan seemed “crazy” given the large population and strong consumer demand for recreational marijuana products.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) similarly took a hit at New York earlier this month, posting a tweet that sarcastically called the state “cute” for opening a single dispensary for adult consumers. New Jersey, in contrast, opened 12 shops out of the gate.
New York has taken the criticism in stride, arguing that the state is being deliberative about its launch and working to put equity ahead of profit. That first shop that opened is operated by a non-profit that provides HIV/AIDS-related and homelessness assistance, for example.
Also, regulators approved a total of 36 conditional adult-use dispensary licenses, primarily meant for people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the drug war. Those other licensees will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months.
In response to the NJ-CRC diss, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) hit back by challenging New Jersey’s priorities in a since-deleted tweet.
“Good things take time. You know, equity and impact, over quantity and corporate profits,” OCM said. “We’re going to make sure New York does this rollout the right way with a market centered on social and economic equity.”
Connecticut’s regulators, meanwhile, are touting the success of the first day of recreational sales in the state, with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) calling it a “smooth” opening that saw $251,276 in marijuana purchases by 5 PM ET on Tuesday.
It’s been a smooth and successful opening of the adult-use cannabis market. Read the latest update:https://t.co/pEyefCKlms
— Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (@CTDCP) January 10, 2023
“We have had no reported issues at any of our retailers, and we are proud of the successful launch of the regulated adult-use market,” DCP Commissioner Michelle Seagull said in a press release. “We continue to remind consumers to be patient as they make their initial purchases, and to use these products responsibly, including taking into consideration the delayed onset of effects some of these products can have.”
In the new radio interview, Lamont also joked that one of his concerns about the rollout would be finding a place in line at one of the dispensaries. He wasn’t being serious, but the governor previously didn’t rule out the idea of participating in the legal marketplace.
He said in this latest interview that he hasn’t smoked cannabis in “many, many years.”
Governor Lamont was on with @ChazandAJ to commemorate the “opening day” of legalized recreational marijuana in the state. What does he think about testing for DUI, and when was the last time he enjoyed some marijuana?
— 99.1 PLR (@991PLRFM) January 11, 2023
Meanwhile, Lamont announced earlier this month that the state has cleared nearly 43,000 records for marijuana-related convictions. The legalization legislation that he signed into law in 2021 empowered the state government to facilitate mass cannabis conviction relief.
The state also launched a web portal on Monday that provides residents with information about the status of their cannabis records and also guides those with older eligible convictions that weren’t automatically erased through the process of petitioning the courts for relief.
The governor also signed a large-scale budget bill last year that includes provisions to set the state up to provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment using substances like MDMA and psilocybin.
A Connecticut representative filed a bill for the new session to legalize “the use of psilocybin for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, including, but not limited to, the provision of physical, mental or behavioral health care.”
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.