Curaleaf, nation's largest cannabis retailer, to expand in CT

Orders for cannabis products are filled at a recreational Curaleaf dispensary, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Bellmawr, N.J. Officials in Enfield recently approved regulations to allow the adult-use industry in the Connecticut town. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Orders for cannabis products are filled at a recreational Curaleaf dispensary, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Bellmawr, N.J. Officials in Enfield recently approved regulations to allow the adult-use industry in the Connecticut town. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

The largest cannabis retailer in the United States will soon be extending its reach in Connecticut.

The company, Curaleaf, is planning to expand into the adult-use market in the state, working with social equity applicants, launching hybrid medical-recreational retail operations and growing more cannabis in Connecticut.

There are currently four licensed medical cannabis growers in the state, and 18 licensed dispensaries, all selling cannabis for medical purposes, according to licensing data maintained by the state

That does not include the seven growers that have so far been provisionally granted licenses to produce recreational cannabis, or hemp growers producing legal CBD products.

Curaleaf is already one of the four licensed growers in the state and owns almost a quarter of the dispensaries, plus one processing facility.

The other three cultivators are owned and operated by “multi-state operators.” Advanced Grow Labs is now owned by Green Thumb Industries, Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions was bought by Verano Holdings Corp., and Theraplant was bought by Greenrose Acquisition Corp.

In 2020, Curaleaf bought three medical dispensaries (in Hartford, Milford and Stamford) formerly owned by Arrow Alternative Care for $38 million, according to the company’s most recent SEC filings.

Connecticut is only one small part of Curaleaf’s business. The company owns and operates 137 dispensaries, 30 processing facilities and 26 cultivation sites in 21 states. They list their total cultivation capacity at 3.7 million square feet.

Curaleaf’s current medical dispensaries are in Hartford, Stamford, Groton and Milford, but the company “will be applying to convert our medical dispensary license in Stamford to a hybrid license in order to serve both the medical and adult-use markets,” according to Dinesh Penugonda, Curaleaf’s senior vice president of retail operations.

Penugonda said Curaleaf received approval in Manchester to build out a future hybrid operation, “and we are actively seeking locations in other communities that allow adult-use retail stores,” he said. 

The company has also partnered with 10 equity joint ventures seeking micro-cultivation, delivery and retail licenses across the state, Penugonda said. 

Connecticut’s first adult-use retail licenses have been reserved for businesses that are majority owned and operated by individuals that meet social equity criteria defined by the state’s Social Equity Council. Penugonda said Curaleaf is “assisting our equity joint venture partners by serving as a resource for the application process, facility build-out, and operations.” 

“These equity joint ventures will not be Curaleaf branded, nor will we participate in day-to-day operations,” he said. 

As for cultivation, Curaleaf said it is applying for a hybrid license at its facility in Simsbury, which will be intended to serve both Connecticut’s medical and recreational markets.  

“At the moment, we are not planning to add any additional cultivation facilities,” Penugonda said. 

When asked how doing business in Connecticut has compared with that in other states, Penugonda said “with 55 percent of municipalities electing to allow cannabis businesses, Connecticut is ahead of many other states in the availability of potential locations.” 

“Although every state has its nuances based on how the local cannabis program is crafted, the Department of Consumer Protection has done an exceptional job in successfully building out Connecticut establishments to serve medical patients,” he said.