An employee makes pre-rolls in the kitchen. They are measured afterwards to be exactly one gram. Yehyun Kim /

Fourteen cannabis companies inch closer to licensure and entering the legal marijuana market after the Connecticut Social Equity Council approved a new round of applications.

The council approved 14 applications that were recommended by its third-party consultant CohnReznick LLP in its Oct. 18 meeting. It approved a transporter application, three food and beverage applications, a product manufacturer application and nine equity joint venture applications.

A social equity applicant is from a “disproportionately impacted area,” which the council redefined this week in light of updated census information. These applicants are eligible if they come from communities where the “historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses is greater than [10%].”

Edwin Shirley, a council member who is appointed by the Democratic state senate majority leader, said the new recertification helps the council’s social equity efforts.

“I think that the use of the conviction rates only is an elegant way of approaching what we are actually trying to capture,” Shirley said. “By eliminating the use of the employment data as part of it, we got rid of aberrations that occur in certain census tracts where unemployment is unusually high but median income is also high and conviction rates were very, very low.”

The census previously defined a disproportionately impacted area with both historical rates of drug convictions and an unemployment rate of 10% or higher.

Equity joint ventures pair these business owners who fit social equity status with a funder to subsidize the cost of starting a business.

The social equity applicant “exercises operational authority over daily affairs of the business, has the voting power to direct the management agents and policies and receives the beneficial interests of the business” and meets residency requirements.

At its meeting, the council also denied a food and beverage application, a delivery service application and 10 equity joint venture applications.

Seven applicants were given a second chance earlier this month when the council allowed them to resubmit the ownership and control section of their applications.

A consolidated lawsuit of 11 cannabis companies sued the state over the council’s denial process.

This story was originally published on Oct. 20, 2022, by WSHU.