State Now Accepting Applications To Grow, Sell Medical Marijuana

marijuana pot cannabis hbtv hemp beach tvThe state began accepting applications Friday for growers and sellers of medical marijuana. State officials plan to award licenses to three producers — the minimum number, according to state law — although they may award more if there is a greater demand. The state expects to award licenses for three to five dispensaries.

William Rubenstein, commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the medical marijuana program, said the department decided to go with the minimum number of producers based on what appears to be the demand for medical marijuana. As of Friday, he said, there were “900-something” patients who have been certified for medical marijuana usage.

If there is a significant increase in certified patients before Nov. 15 — the deadline for applications — the state might award more licenses, Rubenstein said. If the number of certified patients jumps after the deadline, he said, the state will put out another request for applications.

Regulations for the medical marijuana program prohibit awarding more than 10 licenses for producers.

Ethan Ruby, a Colorado resident who hopes to open a production facility in Watertown, said he looked over the application form “with my team” Friday afternoon. He praised the regulations and application requirements as “incredibly detailed, strict guidelines that are designed to control the product and the medicine.”

Ruby said the state’s plan to award licenses to only three producers “is a prudent step.”

“I think you want to evolve into this industry slowly and cautiously,” he said. “It’s easier to start small and get bigger than to start big and go smaller.”

Rubenstein said that the licenses will probably be awarded near the beginning of 2014 and that production facilities and dispensaries will be up and running by spring or early summer. To ensure that they are financially viable, producers will have to put up $2 million in escrow.

The Consumer Protection Department posted the request for applications Friday afternoon on its website. The department had been waiting for the secretary of the state’s office to post the regulations for the medical marijuana program on its website, which it did earlier that day.

There is a $25,000 fee to apply for a producer’s license and a $1,000 application fee for dispensary applications.

The licenses will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications require detailed information. For potential producers, that includes everything from the location of employee break rooms to the method of producing marijuana. Each application will be scored based on various categories. For both producer and dispensary applications, the greatest emphasis will be placed on business plans, financial statements, and organizational structure.

Criteria for producers include, the range of marijuana products, how employees will be trained to produce “unadulterated, pharmaceutical marijuana,” the companies’ financial soundness, and funding sources and the agricultural experience of the companies’ employees.

Dispensary applicants will be assessed based on, in part, the products that will be sold and services offered, and the applicants’ qualifications. The state will issue dispensary licenses only to Connecticut-certified pharmacists. The form tells applicants that the state wants the dispensaries geographically dispersed around Connecticut.

Bonus points will given to companies with plans for giving back to the community where their facilities are located, have substance-abuse programs and a plan to reduce the environmental impact of their business. Producers can also score extra points if they plan to “conduct or facilitate a scientific study related to the medicinal use of marijuana.”

Both dispensary and producer applicants must also submit plans for how they would prevent theft or loss of marijuana, keep it from entering the black market, and reduce odors from their business. They are also asked if they have ever been convicted of a felony.

They will also be evaluated on how compatible their businesses would be with residences and other businesses in the area.

The state legislature approved the use of medical marijuana in 2012 and last month a legislative committee approved the 76 pages of regulations for the program.

To use marijuana legally, patients need to obtain certification from their physicians and to register with the state. They must buy the marijuana from a state-approved dispensary, which must get their products from a state-approved producer. A physician cannot certify a patient for more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana per month.

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