Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner David Lehman and Office of Policy & Management Secretary Melissa McCaw will be part of the 15-member Social Equity Council, which oversees the licensing of adult-use cannabis companies in Connecticut.
Also named to the council by Gov. Ned Lamont were Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategies Executive Director Kelli Vallieres; Department of Consumer Protection Interim Deputy Commissioner Andrea Comer; and Joseph Williams, a business adviser and international trade specialist for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center in the School of Business at UConn.
The SEC was created by the enactment of the law that legalizes and regulates the adult-use of cannabis in the state. Legalization went into effect on July 1, though retail sales likely will not begin until late 2022.
The SEC members – several of whom are appointed by legislative leaders and the chairperson of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus – will be responsible for:
- Developing programs to support the participation of individuals from communities disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition in the cannabis market.
- Qualifying social equity applicants, as defined under the law, for cannabis business licenses during the application process.
- Proposing a budget for cannabis-related revenues to support all types of business startups and job creation, economic development, and reinvestment in neighborhoods identified by the law the Social Equity Council.
“I’m proud that the cannabis law includes provisions requiring the state to establish a marketplace that is fair, well-regulated, and places a priority on social equity, particularly when it comes to righting some of the wrongs of recent decades,” Lamont said. “The so-called war on drugs, which was really a war on Black and Brown people, caused severe injustices and disparities within certain communities while doing little to protect public health and safety.
“The carefully selected and well-qualified Social Equity Council will play an important role as Connecticut’s cannabis marketplace transitions from one that has been dangerous and unregulated, to one that will support a new equitable sector of our economy,” the governor continued. “In the coming years, it will play a crucial role in reinvesting broadly into the most impacted communities.”
Two additional appointments from Lamont are forthcoming. In addition, the governor will soon select a chairperson from among the council’s members, as required under the statute.