The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is set to begin accepting some adult-use cannabis license applications next month, starting first with would-be cultivators and retailers seeking social equity licenses. Social-equity applicants pursuing packaging and transport licenses will be able to submit their applications beginning in March.

Application periods for the first round of licenses will be open for 90 days, and according to the DCP, licenses will be split evenly between social equity applicants and general applicants. The state will use a lottery process for most industry licenses, except for social equity cultivators, current medical cannabis operators, and those issued for its social equity micro-cultivator program.

In a press release, DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull described the initial number of licenses as “not a cap but a starting point for “opening the adult-use cannabis market in an effective, measured and thoughtful way.”

DCP Drug Control Director Rod Marriott cautioned applicants to “prioritize submitting the best application they can” rather than trying to be first to submit their application, noting that “there is no advantage for applicants who submit their lottery applications first.”

The agency will hold two lotteries for each license type: a social equity lottery and a general lottery. Applicants selected in the social equity lottery are subject to review by the Social Equity Council to confirm their social equity status. To qualify as a social equity applicant in Connecticut, at least 65% of the ownership or control of the business must be held by individuals who meet the income and residency requirements for a social equity applicant outlined in the law. The state-approved those social equity rules on January 5.

“This work by the Social Equity Council is a critical step in the licensure process for the emerging Adult-Use cannabis market in Connecticut and will be instrumental in ensuring the equity goals established in the law are met,” Seagull said in a statement.

Last September, Seagull indicated that while regulators had suggested adult-use sales would begin by the end of this year, she warned that officials “have to see how things play out in the next few months.”