HARTFORD — Connecticut plans to allow up to three more medical marijuana dispensaries, targeting New Haven and Fairfield counties, where there are the most registered patients and the fewest licensed sellers.
The decision to add to the state’s six dispensaries comes nine months after the first medical marijuana sales by a fledgling industry in Connecticut in which both growers and dispensaries are still in a struggle to break even.
The Department of Consumer Protection announced Thursday that it would seek proposals for the new dispensaries because there has been “significant growth” in patient registration, especially this spring. The medical marijuana program had 4,097 registered patients as of June 5, up from 3,600 in April and 1,683 in September, according to state officials.
“Back of the envelope, there should be 6,000 registered patients by the end of the year,” said Jonathan Harris, commissioner of consumer protection. “That’s even before the addition of the six new [medical] conditions in place through the regulatory process in the first quarter of next year.”
Harris said the number of new dispensaries would depend on trends in registration of both patients and physicians for the program. Acceptance by the medical community has been slow, mostly because research on medical marijuana is scant. Connecticut now has 222 doctors registered to refer patients to a dispensary for treatment. That’s still a small sliver of the 10,000 doctors practicing in the state.