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Connecticut Could Be Home to a Mega Dispensary

September 22, 2021 08:00 am ET
Connecticut Could Be Home to a Mega Dispensary

Connecticut could be the future home to a mega cannabis dispensary. Although we’re not talking quite as big as Planet 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada—which takes up an astonishing 115,000 square feet—the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is pondering the possibility of establishing a more than 25,000-square-foot mega dispensary near the Foxwoods Resort Casino as well as other tribal-owned properties such as zip lines, arcades, and more.

Connecticut is a southern New England state with an estimated population of 3,605,944 as of April 1, 2020, according to census reports. Dotted with small towns and coastal cities, Connecticut has a rich maritime history and is also the home of Yale University. The state holds many different monikers such as the Provisions State, the Nutmeg State, the Constitution State, and quite possibly one of the most fitting monikers, the Land of Steady Habits.

Currently, cannabis and Native American tribes do not mix very well. This is because of the United States federal government’s current stance on cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug that is highly addictive with no medicinal value. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s interest in entering into the legal cannabis sector could be signaling that an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis is finally near.

A 25,000-foot dispensary might pale in comparison to Nevada’s 115,000-foot Planet 13, but keep in mind that Planet 13 goes far beyond an average dispensary, combining restaurants, entertainment, and a cannabis processing facility all in one place. As a 25,000-foot dispensary in the vicinity of a major casino, shopping outlets, arcades, and activities like hiking and ziplining, Connecticut’s proposed mega dispensary holds the potential to be just as grand of a destination for cannabis connoisseurs.

Adding to the Excitement of Foxwoods Casino Resort 

Currently, the area being nominated to host the mega dispensary boasts activities like the Highflyer Zipline, Hollow Gate Virtual Reality, Monza World-Class Karting, Ready Glaze Fire, Spellbound Escape Rooms, XD Darkride, Topgolf Swing Suite, and more. Media reports suggest that should everything go as planned, a 25,000-foot mega dispensary could open in the area as soon as spring of 2022, though no sales are expected until the end of 2022—six months behind what was previously expected.

Connecticut recently legalized adult-use/recreational cannabis, allowing adults 21 and over to have 1.5 ounces of cannabis in their possession and up to 5 ounces of cannabis locked up in their trunk, glove box, or at home. Naturally, those who oppose legalized cannabis cited the typical concerns of a rise in crime, addiction, underage use, and other concerns, many of which have been shut down over the years.

Building a mega dispensary near Foxwoods Resort Casino could attract a lot of tourism to the area. But the big question remaining on everyone’s minds is: Will there be legal places to consume cannabis purchased in the area?

As it is right now, most hotels and resorts do not allow cannabis consumption on-premises, even if it’s legal. In fact, it’s a major no-no in my experience; I have been escorted out of casinos simply for smoking hemp cigarettes sold at casino gas stations. Time will tell if new laws permit the consumption of cannabis in casinos the same way visitors are allowed to smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and vape pens.

A Tribe That Vibes With Authority, Community, and Culture

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation appears to have all its ducks in a row, even garnering support from Democratic state Sen. Cathy Osten. Osten not only supports the sale of cannabis on casino property, but she also supports the establishment of a cannabis dispensary in her Senate district of Norwich.

Members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe have already met with state lawmakers in Connecticut, asking them to include wording in cannabis legislation that would authorize tribes and states to “enter into contract concerning the regulation, production, and sale of cannabis by Indian tribes in Connecticut.” According to media reports, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe told the Connecticut legislature’s Judiciary Committee,

“Just as the state has expressed an interest in working with surrounding states regarding cannabis legalization, it would be mutually beneficial for the state and interested tribes to create a cohesive regulatory structure. Mashantucket Pequot is well positioned to take on such a role, having developed and maintained with great success comprehensive regulatory schemes concerning gaming, environmental matters, and a range of other issues on tribal lands.”

Connecticut’s cannabis legalization program was specifically passed and implemented with a focus on areas disproportionately impacted by issues like unemployment and drug conviction rates. Individuals from these areas will be offered lower licensing fees; additionally, half of cannabis business licenses in the state of Connecticut must be reserved for applicants that come from disproportionately impacted areas.

Big things could be on the horizon for the state of Connecticut in 2022—maybe even as big as 25,000 square feet!

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