Governor Lamont Names Five Members of the Newly Established Social Equity Council
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced the names of five members who will serve on Connecticut’s newly established Social Equity Council. The council was created by the enactment of a new law the governor signed last month that legalizes and safely regulates the adult-use of cannabis in Connecticut.
Consisting of 15 members – several of whom are appointed by legislative leaders and the chairperson of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus – the council will be responsible for:
- Developing programs to support the participation of individuals from communities disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition in the cannabis market;
- Qualifying social equity applicants, as defined under the law, for cannabis business licenses during the application process; and
- Proposing a budget for cannabis-related revenues to support all types of business startups and job creation, economic development, and reinvestment in neighborhoods identified by the law and the Social Equity Council.
“I’m proud that the cannabis law includes provisions requiring the state to establish a marketplace that is fair, well-regulated, and places a priority on social equity, particularly when it comes to righting some of the wrongs of recent decades,” Governor Lamont said. “The so-called war on drugs, which was really a war on Black and Brown people, caused severe injustices and disparities within certain communities while doing little to protect public health and safety. The carefully selected and well-qualified Social Equity Council will play an important role as Connecticut’s cannabis marketplace transitions from one that has been dangerous and unregulated, to one that will support a new equitable sector of our economy. In the coming years, it will play a crucial role in reinvesting broadly into the most impacted communities.”
Governor Lamont noted that the new law legalizing adult-use cannabis includes provisions prohibiting all members of the Social Equity Council from having any management or financial interest in the cultivation, manufacture, sale, transportation, delivery, or testing of cannabis in Connecticut. They cannot profit in any way from sales or purchases of cannabis.
When selecting members, the law requires each of the appointing authorities to choose those based on specific qualifications designated for each of the appointments as defined in the statute.
The appointments Governor Lamont is making today and their statutorily required qualifications include:
- An individual with a professional background of at least five years working in economic development: Joseph Williams
- A resident of Hartford, Williams is a business advisor and international trade specialist for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center in the School of Business at UConn. Growing up in the Springfield, Massachusetts, public school system, he understands the importance of having a high-quality education and equal opportunity for all. Williams began his career having established his first entrepreneurial endeavor within five years of completing undergraduate studies and embarking on a successful corporate career. He continues to own and operate a small business in Connecticut called DST Construction, which undertakes residential redevelopment projects throughout the state.
- An executive branch official focused on workforce development: Dr. Kelli Vallieres
- Dr. Vallieres serves as executive director of the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategies. Prior to joining state government, she worked for more than 20 years as the CEO of two manufacturing companies in Connecticut, has a PhD in adult experiential learning, and serves on the boards of several workforce-focused organizations across the state.
The ex-officio members from the administration or their designees will include:
- Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection or designee: Interim Deputy Commissioner Andrea Comer
- Commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development or designee: Commissioner David Lehman
- Secretary of the Office of Policy & Management or designee: Secretary Melissa McCaw
Two additional appointments from Governor Lamont are forthcoming. In addition, the governor will soon select a chairperson from among the council’s members, as required under the statute.
Information on the council and other updates regarding the legalization of cannabis in Connecticut are available online at ct.gov/cannabis.