(WFSB) - A key step Thursday as Connecticut creates a retail market for recreational marijuana.
The legislation that legalized pot also created a social equity council to help communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.
The social equity council met for the first time, looking to shape how the state can help those hurt by the previous ban on pot.
They certainly know they have a big task ahead of them and they want to act quickly.
They want to fix some of the damage caused by the war on drugs, but they play a key role in starting our recreational market.
"This is long overdue, right we have been. This war on drugs has been decades and decades," Andrea Comer, chairwoman of the social equity council, tells us.
The Department of Consumer Protection will issue licenses for every part of the marijuana business, from growing to making products to retail sale.
Half of each type of license is reserved for social equity applicants, but what is that?
Social equity licenses go to companies with an owner with a two-thirds stake that meets two criteria, they earn less than three times the state median income and they come from an area disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
"Ensuring that folks who want to go into this business, particularly those who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, have the access to resources and support," says Comer.
The council today approved a map of impacted areas.
The areas are largely in cities with either a high concentration of drug arrests in 1982 or an unemployment rate over ten percent.
The council will come up with more criteria for who is a social equity applicant.
Other tasks include supporting pot business and reinvesting up to $40 million in tax revenue into those some communities.
"That’s how these communities come back. That’s how you afford to stay in your communities," Gov. Ned Lamont stated.
It’s still not clear when adults can buy pot. Lawmakers are hoping next Summer, but it depends on how quickly rules get put in place.
The council is a key part of that, but members say it’s important to get that right.
"Making sure we’re just, you know, not putting the cart before the horse, making sure we’re moving in the right direction," Corrie Betts of the social equity council added.
There are dates in place for people who want to grow their own plants, October 1 for medical marijuana patients and July 2023 for all other adults 21 and older.
There’s a cap of three mature and three immature plants.