New tax begins on THC-infused drink sales in CT

Starting Tuesday, stores must charge an extra $1 tax on each can. It’s part of a sweeping new law aimed at keeping kids away from drinks meant for adults.

John Craven

May 14, 2024, 8:49 PM

Updated 3 days ago

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Seltzers infused with THC – the active ingredient in marijuana – just got more expensive in Connecticut.
Starting Tuesday, stores must charge an extra $1 tax on each can. It’s part of a sweeping new law aimed at keeping kids away from drinks meant for adults.
HOT SELLER
At stores across Connecticut, THC beverages are growing in popularity.
“We have three different producers. We have different flavors,” said Ethan Epstein, who manages Black Bear Wines and Spirits in Norwalk. “People are buying less alcohol on the whole. They’re looking for other trends.”
But it’s not just adults. Underage customers can also buy THC drinks at gas stations and smoke shops – sometimes at much higher THC levels than allowed by law.
“Manufacturers have tried to get around this by patching over the per serving piece of their product, and then claim ‘Oh, this doesn’t exceed more than 5 [mg] per container,’” said state Rep. Mike D’Agostino (D-Hamden). “Or they do it the other way and they patch over the per container, and it’s only 1 mg per serving and then it’s 20 servings in the can,” D’Agostini said.
NEW LAW
Over the weekend, Lamont signed a new law to more tightly regulate THC-infused beverages.
“I think it was sort of a little unregulated loophole that we wanted to make sure that you carefully calibrated the content there,” said Gov. Ned Lamont.
Starting July 1, the products will only be available at licensed liquor stores or cannabis dispensaries – and only to customers who are 21 years old. On Oct. 1, seltzers infused with hemp will be limited to 3 mg of THC total, and must conform to stricter labeling standards. Drinks derived from cannabis can still contain 5 mg of THC, but they can only be purchased at dispensaries – not at package stores.
“This new law prevents sales of THC-infused beverages to minors and takes other steps to protect public health and safety, while still allowing for the sale of certain products in package stores and cannabis retail establishments,” said Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan Cafferelli.
BUZZKILL FOR BUSINESSES?
Along with the new regulations comes a new tax. Stores must now charge a $1 “container fee” for each THC-infused drink container.
“It’s essentially a 25% tax, so we either have to eat that out of our profit or we have to pass that along to the customer,” Epstein said. “I’m not going to stock up on it, so I’m not stuck with it. We’ll tell our customers what’s happening. If they are OK with that, then fine.”
The law also places new restrictions on hemp products, which some farmers and wellness stores believe could put them out of business.
“My customers are not looking to get high. They are looking for relief,” Peter Bogdan, owner of Your CBD Store Wilton, told lawmakers. “I find it appalling that the bill being considered would benefit only the recreational dispensaries but critically damage my business.”


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