Cannabis in Connecticut

Medicinal Cannabis Hiring Continues in CT as Businesses Await Recreational Licenses

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Right now, the lottery process for picking who gets recreational cannabis licenses continues in Connecticut.

As business owners vie for those spots, the medicinal market in our state continues to bud. CTPharma a medicinal marijuana producer in our state, is looking to hire 30 more new employees.

The jobs, according to the company's head of recruiting, are full-time.

“Our pay and benefits are in fact good, but what we notice is people coming because they are absolutely passionate about this industry," said Michael Evans, Verano Holdings head of recruiting.

Stephen Nitchke-Ellison of Milford interviewed for a job on Wednesday. He retired from Graybar Electric after thirty years with the company.

“I don’t want to travel too far from Milford and pay for gas. I want this to put aside to get my wife out of work earlier,” Nitchke-Ellison said.

He hopes to help his wife retire sooner by taking a job in a field he says he’s so fascinated with and fulfilled by: medical cannabis.

“I’ve been a patient for seven years and I take it at night for my back and I learned a lot about it and this really works,” Nitchke-Ellison said.

CTPharma held a buzzing job fair on Wednesday at the Sheraton down the road from their cultivation facility in Rocky Hill.

Within an hour, dozens, like Nitchke-Ellison. stopped in to inquire.

“I told them anything, even if custodial, opens up, 'I’ll be in there,'" Nitchke-Ellison said.

Rowan Malcolm drove from Bridgeport to interview. He said he's willing to commute after seeing how helpful cannabis was for his friend battling cancer.

“When you see someone going through that pain like not eating and throwing up constantly,” he said. “When you see that this one plant just helps them in that kind of way, it’s like, 'Wow.'”

Verano is one of the thousands of applicants waiting for word if they’ll get a recreational license here in our state.

The lottery selection process was written into state law.

The Department of Consumer Protection said they hope to have the first round picked within the next couple of months.

 “We knew there would be a lot of interest, so we need a way to make it fair that people can apply, and we can review those applications quickly and on the way to opening their business,” said Director of Communications Kaitlyn Krasselt.

“Everybody is on the exact same plane in terms of uncertainty and waiting. You make the case, and you wait, but we do anticipate the recreational business here and that certainly does affect hiring,” Evans said.

If their sales do sprout into the recreational market in our state, Verano would expect to hire even more people.

Evans said these current hires could also easily move into the recreational realm.

“Everything we do from raising the plant to assisting our patients, customers boils down to human interaction," Evans said.

In the meantime, DCP is not surprised to see people and businesses starting to have conversations with local zoning authorities and even potential employees, despite not having been selected for a license yet.

“As long as they're being clear that they don't yet have a license, and there's no guarantee that they'll have a license as they move through this process. It's not surprising that people are sort of taking those preliminary steps doing that research, so that if they are granted licensed, they can sort of hit the ground running,” Krasselt said.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Evans tells NBC Connecticut they’ve hired 12 folks on the spot, as they continue their search. Their job fair continues until 8 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Thursday.

Like their customer base, applicants like Nitchke-Ellison and Malcolm come from all sorts of backgrounds.

“If you walked in and saw a line waiting to come into the store, you would see a cross section of America and that is a very powerful experience to see,” Evans said.

“I want to learn from this whole business because it’s really growing,” Nitchke-Ellison said.

Timelines are vague, but DCP expects recreational sales in our state to begin by the end of the year.

For more information and application details, you can visit the state's website.

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