The state of Connecticut set a record for legal cannabis sales in August, raking in $25 million in medical and recreational cannabis sales. However, the success of the legal system has not kept black market cannabis from entering the market.
Some in the state have decided to follow a strategy that seeks to reduce black market cannabis by setting a system to bring illegal marijuana operators into the state system. These illegal operators, referred to as selling the “legacy system,” are being encouraged to enter the legal market.
These are both big and small businesses, ranging from bulk operators selling across large regions to people growing a few plants in their house or baking cannabis edibles in their kitchen. and a friend. A former legacy system operator who now owns two legal dispensaries and a growing facility approved by the state, told CT Insider that he hopes to get legacy products to get a license and sell their wares on his shelves.
“If we’re able to bring those individuals in, not only are we now moving their culture from the black market and gray market, but we’re now putting it in the hands of the legal market being taxed and regulated,” he said.
Connecticut Legal Cannabis Sales Continue to Grow
There’s hope that the continued success of the legal cannabis market in Connecticut will entice black market cannabis operators into the system. Of the $25 million in sales made in August 2023, $14 million were recreational cannabis sales and $11 million were medical cannabis sales. The combined $25 million beat the previous sales record, set in June 2023.
The state provided a breakdown of sales in Connecticut. Medical cannabis patients bought a total of 278,395 products in August 2023, while recreational consumers purchased 354,700 products. The average product price paid by medical cannabis patients was $39.36 in August, while the average price of recreational cannabis product was $39.49.
In August, cannabis flower accounted for 52% of all cannabis sales. Vapes made up 30%, while edibles made up 11%.
Challenges Faced Moving Into Legal Cannabis Market
For legacy producers trying to move into the legal cannabis market in Connecticut, there are substantial roadblocks. One is the concern that they will face enforcement action if they come forward and admit they have operated in black market cannabis.
Scheril Murray Powell, an attorney and chief operating officer for The JustUs Foundation that helps legacy cannabis operators enter the legal cannabis market, told CT Insider many illegal operators are interested in entering the market, but have fears about law enforcement.
“I think where they struggle is, what’s the point where you stop operating in the illicit space to make sure you’re not subject to enforcement, which will be detrimental to your pursuit of a license in the future,” she said.
Some consumers may also prefer sticking with a known cannabis connection in the black market. However, they may not have considered that the regulated market ensures all products are regulated for quality and adherence to strict guidelines.