HAMDEN, Conn. — A new association has been formed to ensure Black and other under represented communities will have an opportunity to participate in Connecticut’s new legalized recreational marijuana industry, as state legislators had promised.

The Alliance for Cannabis Equity, or ACE, created by two local workforce and economic development organizations, will host various programs to help aspiring businesses owners and to train workers for the new cannabis field.

The establishment of retail stores across Connecticut isn’t expected until the end of 2022 or 2023.

“The legalization of cannabis introduces a brand new growth industry into Connecticut. And millions, if not billions, of dollars of wealth will be created,” said Carlton Highsmith, board chair of the New Haven-based Connecticut Community Outreach Revitalization Program, in a statement.

He noted that provisions in the state law legalizing the adult use of cannabis in Connecticut aim to guarantee those minority communities harmed by the war on drugs will benefit from the new industry, including as “ social equity candidates ” for various licenses.

“The role of ACE is to assure that the social equity provisions related to adult-use cannabis are fully realized,” said Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of the Bridgeport-based The WorkPlace, in a statement.

“We know from the experiences of other states that legalized recreational use and addressed equity in their laws that the gap between law and practice can be significant,” said Fred McKinney, founder BJM Solutions, an economic consultant firm based in Trumbull, adding that the coalition wants to learn from those experiences.

Meanwhile, the 15-member Connecticut Social Equity Council, which was created by the legalization law, has already begun meeting and in August approved 215 communities that will be given priority for cannabis licenses, as well as special equity programs.

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