Editorial: A decision to keep a cannabis business out of Hartford was a mistake

We as adults are legally allowed to possess and use up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis in Connecticut — and that does not even count that we can keep up to 5 ounces of pot in a locked container at home or drive it around in our locked glove compartment or the trunk of our cars.

Yes, the state tells us it’s OK to drive it around (locked up) in our cars.


That of course does not mean all of us are going to do this — in our homes or in our cars. And we certainly don’t want kids doing it.

But this law allowing us to use marijuana has been in effect since July 1, 2021, and it’s not going away. Starting in July 2023, adults in Connecticut can even grow marijuana at home (with limits of up to three mature and three immature plants, cap of 12 per household). Retail sales of cannabis are expected to begin late this year.


The Social Equity Council only recently approved 16 applications for cultivators and forwarded them to the Department of Consumer Protection for background checks. Why is there a social equity element to these laws? The law recognizes the government’s war on drugs disproportionately prosecuted suspects in Black communities and other communities of color.

A lottery also is planned that will pick from 37,294 applications and award 56 licenses for manufacturing, packaging, transporting, delivery, food and beverage and other cannabis business operations.

Yes, 37,294 applications, and that means a whole lot of folks want to get in on this new business in Connecticut.

But not so fast in Hartford.

In the state’s capital city, the first recreational marijuana shop downtown is a no go.

Why? Because the Capital Region Development Authority controls zoning in the Front Street neighborhood.

This news came after lawyers looked at records and drew the conclusion the CRDA has this authority.

But the CRDA contends the proposed cannabis shop was not consistent with the area’s family-focused entertainment, and could impact convention bookings.


It’s not quite clear how families would have necessarily known that the cannabis shop was there.

The plan for this shop had included security inside and outside, checking of IDs to make sure patrons were at least 21, no items visible from the street, no advertising in windows or neon, flashing cannabis leaf signs, only prepackaged products, no odors and no consumption onsite.

It sounds so anonymous that it makes one wonder whether the CRDA was worried customers would stop kids on the street to ask where the shop was.

The developer had actually precluded that though: They expected sales would have been mostly preorders and by appointment.

So, a barely noticeable shop that the city had said met zoning requirements and could boost tourism and foot traffic and encourage entrepreneurial, innovative businesses was nixed.




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Derrick C. Gibbs Jr., a partner in the proposed business said he was puzzled by CRDA’s suggestion of alternate locations, such as the new North Crossing development near Dunkin’ Donuts Park. “Very strange that they are saying that Arch Street is family friendly, but next to the Yard Goats stadium, that’s not family friendly?” Gibbs said.


We also are scratching our heads over this one.

Yes, Front Street has restaurants, entertainment venues, apartments and a UConn regional campus.

But we note again that possession of certain small amounts of marijuana is legal now in Connecticut, and the upcoming legal sales will be limited to adults — just like alcohol and cigarettes.

That means cannabis is not for kids but it is for adults who choose to use it. And that means cannabis is no more family unfriendly than alcohol. Both substances come with the need for responsibility.

Hartford needs businesses, and this was a proposal for a legal business.

Amid the burgeoning interest in cannabis in Connecticut, a decision to keep a business out of Hartford was a mistake.