HARTFORD, CT — One sign of the success of the state’s medical marijuana program is the scores of businesses who want to be part of it.
Currently, there are nine medical dispensary facilities providing marijuana to Connecticut patients. In January, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) announced that it would award at least three new licenses to serve the now more than 25,000 patients who have been prescribed medical pot.
The state received a whopping 73 applications by last week’s April 9 deadline, according to Lora Rae Anderson, spokesperson for the DCP.
Some of the 73 of include proposals for multiple facilities, Anderson said Monday. “The RFA allows us to select up to 10 locations for new facilities,” Anderson added.
“We hope to make a decision in the coming months,” Anderson said. “Last time we issued an RFA, applications were due in September of 2015, and we made a decision in January of 2016. At that time, we received 19 applications.”
In January 2016, when three new licenses were awarded, there were only 8,000 patients.
Anderson said that when the new licenses are handed out geography will be a consideration along with where patient growth is being experienced.
Currently, there are two medical marijuana dispensaries in Milford, and one each in Bristol, Waterbury, Branford, South Windsor, Hartford, Bethel, and Uncasville.
As of Monday, there are 6,205 patients in Hartford Country; 5,921 in New Haven County; 5,154 in Fairfield County; 2,789 in New London County; 1,525 in Litchfield County; 1,499 in Middlesex County; 1,214 in Tolland County; and 867 in Windham County.
There are currently 22 conditions that may qualify adults for Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Program, and six conditions for patients under 18. There are currently 862 physicians registered with the program.
“We’re proud that our program has grown to support so many patients with such severe conditions,” Anderson said. “We know that the program has been so successful because it’s based on a medical model, and has always expended thoughtfully.”
Anderson attributed the growth of the program to the number of medical conditions.
“More people are hearing stories of patients who have had success with this medication, and more physicians are registering with the program as they see patient success with medical marijuana,” Anderson said.
Attempts to legalize marijuana for everyone have fallen short over the past few years, stalling in the General Assembly despite repeated attempts by advocates. A bill recently made it through the Appropriations Committee in a close vote but it isn’t given much of a chance of passage in the House, where it would come up next.
An October 2017 poll by Sacred Heart University showed that 71 percent of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana for adults.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated last year that Connecticut could bring in $45.4 million to $104.6 million annually if it legalizes marijuana in the same way it’s been done in Massachusetts or Colorado.
Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational pot.