NORWICH — With Connecticut poised to embrace the adult-use cannabis market, the company expected to be Norwich’s first legal cultivator this week announced its next steps.
CT Plant Based Compassionate Care LLC announced its approval from the state’s Social Equity Council as a social equity candidate on Monday. The company is a partnership between Stamford resident John O’Leary and multistate cannabis operator Sweetspot Brands LLC, which is based in Warwick, Rhode Island. It was one of 16 to get approval last month.
CT Plant Based Compassionate Care LLC will now apply for a provisional license from the state Department of Consumer Protection, according to a press release.
A cannabis cultivation operation is a possibility at the former Mr. Big’s department store on Eighth Street in the Greeneville section of Norwich.
“While I am personally new to the cannabis industry, I am excited to have partnered with Sweetspot, an experienced cannabis operator,” O’Leary stated in the release. “Together, we will produce high-quality and safe cannabis products for the Connecticut community.”
The partnership will have a 52,000-square-foot facility in Norwich. Mayor Peter Nystrom said the business is in the process of buying 5 Eighth St. in Greeneville, former home of the Mr. Big Department Store.
Nystrom said the cultivator is important because it represents more growth, from jobs to taxes and utility sales.
“Back in November, we gave a welcoming address (to) let the industry know we would accept their presence in our community,” he said.
The cultivator stated in the press release that they expect to create $7 million in stimulus during construction, and create 40 jobs. According to the MJBiz Factbook for 2022, every dollar spent at adult use stores and dispensaries creates $1.80 for the economy overall.
As the state’s goal with adult use cannabis is to address areas impacted by the War on Drugs, it’s important to officials, including Norwich Community Development Corporation President Kevin Brown, that the cultivator is opening in an affected area of the city, as these jobs are in walking distance for people in the area.
“Placing this thing in Greeneville is a win, win, win situation,” he said.
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Norwich resident Kevin Rios said he’s looking forward to something new in the city, adding “it’ll put Norwich ahead.”
“There are a lot of cities that just have dispensaries, and not really any growing facilities, so that’s something different,” he said.
Kevin Rios, 20, of Norwich would like to see a proposed cannabis cultivation operation at the former Mr. Big’s department store on Eighth Street in the Greeneville section of Norwich. He said it was a good idea and the area would likely be cleaned up too. Asked if he would be a customer he said “Of course.”
The state’s definition of a disproportionately impacted area is a census tract that has either an unemployment rate of over 10% or that has a historic drug conviction rate greater than 10%.
Brown is also keen on seeing the jobs impact, as he believes it could create an additional 80 jobs elsewhere in the local economy.
Due to the nature of the business, Brown said it could take CT Plant Based Compassionate Care six to eight months to be fully operational, figuring in infrastructure decisions, utilities and growing the first crop.
While the partnership will start within the limits of the Mr. Big building, Brown said the business plans on expanding when possible.
Originally, the state had limited how many cannabis cultivators and retail operations could be in a single municipality, relative to population. That rule was eliminated earlier this year. Brown said there’s potential for more cultivators and retailers.
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“We took the right steps to open the door to the industry, to approach it cautiously but aggressively, and provide those development opportunities,” Brown said. “It’s starting to come to fruition.”
The Bulletin contacted O’Leary, as well as Jason Webski and Tom Lew from Sweetspot Brands, but they did not comment before press time.
H/T: The Bulletin