A cannabis licensee is seeking to open an adult-use location at 108 Federal Road, in Danbury, Conn, a former equipment rental business location. Tuesday, September, 20, 2022.
But its dormant status may change in the coming months if the owners of a newly established adult-use retail cannabis business successfully secure a preliminary license from the state that would allow the firm to sell marijuana to recreational customers.
Carl Tirella, co-founder of BUDR Hartford Holding LLC, said the entity successfully secured one of the first Equity Joint Venture retail licenses issued by the state, with plans to begin sales from its prospective location in Danbury early next year. The business is seeking zoning approvals from city’s Planning Commission, which will hold a public hearing on the matter on Nov. 2.
“We were targeting the Danbury area and we were able to find a building that was consistent with the regulations that were just approved and we applied as of last week, submitted all the documents and we were given our provisional certificate (Monday) and submitted that to the city and then we’re on (to) the hearing and will hopefully be approved Nov. 2,” Tirella said Tuesday.
Under the state’s recreational marijuana statute, the Equity Joint Venture applicant must partner with a licensed producer, a “Disproportionately Impacted Area” cultivator, or an existing dispensary facility, and must be at least 50 percent owned and controlled by an individual, or individuals who “had an average household income of less than 300 percent of, or three times, the state median household income over the last three tax years.”
The social equity partner must also show they were either “a resident of a disproportionately impacted area for at least five of the last 10 years,” or “a resident of a disproportionately impacted areas for at least nine years” before they turned 18.
Unlike applicants for other types of cannabis licenses, those seeking approval for an Equity Joint Venture do not partake in a lottery process; instead they are vetted and selected by the state’s Social Equity Council, a special body setup to oversee the cannabis licensing in the state.
After building a career in finance and project management, Tirella explained how he left his most recent job with Acerage Holdings, a leading cannabis firm that runs a medical medical marijuana dispensary in Danbury and has licenses to grow, process, and dispense marijuana in multiple states, in March and co-founded BUDR with Derrick Gibbs, the chief executive officer of the Middletown-based Change Incorporated, an organization providing mental health services to clients across Connecticut.
In order to become eligible for an Equity Joint Venture license, the pair then linked with Nancine Crump, a Middletown resident qualified as a social equity applicant under the state’s cannabis laws, and an existing cannabis license holder.
“(We) teamed up with an existing operator and we used their license to work with a social equity applicant to stand up a retail (dispensary) in the state,” he explained.
Citing a request from the company, Tirella declined to identify the name of the “existing operator” but explained how Danbury became an attractive option for the group’s planned location, citing the city’s focus on a “community driven process” when it comes to allowing cannabis retailers.
Calls placed to Danbury planning officials Tuesday seeking information around the application went unreturned.
Passed in August, Danbury’s marijuana regulations limit the number of marijuana businesses so that no more than four may operate at any one time citywide, and they would be confined to certain commercial and industrial zones where they don’t impinge on schools, parks and houses of worship. Seven other kinds of marijuana businesses, such as cannabis food and beverage manufacturing, are not allowed under the local rules.
The approval of the city’s regulations ended a temporary moratorium on cannabis establishments that was implemented by city officials last summer after the state legalized recreational marijuana; but it also provided an attractive incentive for BUDR to open a location in Danbury, according to Tirella.
“(Danbury) has limited licensing structure (allowing) one hybrid, one medical, and one cannabis retailer, so that was obviously attractive,” Tirella said.
With a goal to open multiple locations in Connecticut, Tirella added, “Danbury may or may not be the first and or the last.”