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Date: 2023-01-11 07:33:36
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"There's a lot of people excited for adult use," Giguere said. "I was up late at night, I saw the menu dropped and I put in my order."
Giguere ordered an eighth-of-an-ounce of flower. He used to frequent the Massachusetts dispensaries, but now he won't have to make the trip.
Fine Fettle required all customers to pre-order products before entering the store. Customers were required to present a valid identification and proof of their pre-order before being allowed inside the store. Inside, there were registers designated for medical and recreational use so there was little congestion.
The Newington location is one of seven retail locations, three of which owned by Fine Fettle, that began selling cannabis for recreational use on Tuesday.
The first man in line Tuesday morning was 70-year-old Shawn Merritt, a medical patient from Bristol who said he'd been using cannabis since "back in the '70s."
"I smoked weed way back then," Merritt said. "I smoked weed my whole life. I have been on medical for three years because of a motorcycle wreck. I have been on every pill you can imagine. Opioids and everything. They never worked for me. Marijuana is the only thing that's ever worked for me."
Merritt came to the Newington location Tuesday despite the anticipated crowds because his monthly order was ready for pick-up. While he's been coming each month for about three years, he still got to walk under the balloon arch into the store and celebrate the historic day.
"I would never dreamed this in my entire lifetime," Merritt said. "Five years ago, you would have said 'marijuana is going to be legal and you can walk in off the street and buy it?' I would have said 'not in my lifetime.'"
As the morning progressed, there was limited car congestion Tuesday in the parking lot at Fine Fettle. Parking attendants helped customers find designated spots and greeters guided people through the lines.
Marghie Giuliano, chief compliance officer at Fine Fettle, said the smooth launch and minimal crowds could be attributed to "months of work" and the hiring of over 100 new employees statewide.
The pre-order model, according to Fine Fettle CEO Richard Carbray, is an attempt to avoid long lines like those seen when Massachusetts launched recreational cannabis sales in 2018.
"We really have to be conscious of the potential of traffic," Carbray said. "We don't want to happen what happened in Massachusetts with huge lines and people getting upset because of sitting in cars waiting."
On her way out of the store, Alyssa Michaels clutched a small white bag with her purchase, which she had pre-ordered online. Michaels, of Newington, used to drive to Massachusetts to buy cannabis. She said the prices in Massachusetts are better, but she is excited to be able to buy cannabis so close to home.
"It's a lot more expensive here," Michaels said. "I am going to try this out, see how it is. I am here to support Connecticut. I am excited for it to kick-start. In a couple of years, I'd expect the prices to be a lot more competitive."
Eric Halpern, who runs inventory at Fine Fettle, said pricing in Connecticut is lower than when Massachusetts launched adult-use cannabis in 2018, but higher than the prices in Massachusetts now.
"I think this is the highest the price points would be," Halpern said. "As more producers come on board and the supply goes up, the prices should come down."
The Newington location will not yet stock a full range of edible products, but will offer indica and sativa strains of flower, pre-rolls and vapes. Halpern explained that some of the limited variety is attributable to state regulation.
"The state is allowing only certain categories of products on the recreational, adult-use menu," Halpern said. "Flower or pre-rolls that are 30 percent or less THC. On the medical menu we will have similar products that are more potent."
Similar to Massachusetts, Connecticut dispensaries are able to sell pre-filled vape carts with no limit to potency. The edibles also have the same dosage restrictions as Massachusetts, but come in less varieties, flavors and forms.
In February, Fine Fettle plans to open a second Hartford County location in Manchester that will only offer recreational cannabis.
"It is long over-due for us to have responsible adult-use of cannabis in the state of Connecticut," state Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said as he cut the ribbon Tuesday. "Please enjoy these products responsibly."