Berlin officials hear from cannabis entrepreneur

The Town Council and Planning and Zoning Commission held a special meeting on Jan. 31 to discuss the possibility of welcoming cannabis businesses to Berlin. On Jan. 10, adult-use cannabis sales began at seven dispensaries in Connecticut; the closest to Berlin being Fine Fettle on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington.

“We want to give the people in Berlin what they want,” Mayor Mark Kaczynski said at the recent special meeting.

“After tonight, we will probably have a public forum some time in April to discuss this further," the mayor added.

Berlin’s moratorium on cannabis-related establishments expires at the end of May.

“A cannabis retailer is no different than a package store, and we have those in Berlin,” resident Aurora Corteville commented at the special meeting. "There are cannabis stores in surrounding towns, such as Newington, Plainville and Meriden. What is Berlin waiting for?”

All told, it’s expected that Connecticut will be home to some 75 cannabis dispensary/retail operations.

Business partners Ashley Vaughn and Amanda Osterowitz (Slap Ash LLC) are Connecticut natives who won two of 12 adult-use cannabis retailers licenses in the state's 2022 lottery. They also won a single-use adult-use cannabis delivery license. 

Osterowitz attended the Jan. 31 special meeting virtually.

“I’ve been keeping a close eye on Berlin,” said Osterowitz, who is considering places to open a second cannabis retail business in the state. Slap Ash LLC's other retail location in Connecticut is at 195 Albany Turnpike in Canton.

During the special meeting, Osterowitz showed examples of floorplans for cannabis retail enterprises. One floorplan showed some 25 to 40 cameras inside the store. Osterowitz said security personnel would have access to all those cameras and, by law, police departments can connect to them remotely at any time. 

Osterowitz projects that a cannabis retail location in Berlin operating at full capacity would generate between $750,000 to $1 million per month in gross revenues.

Under that scenario, Berlin could anticipate receiving up to $300,000 annually in tax revenues, or $3 million over the next decade.

After Osterowitz’s presentation, Economic Development Director Chris Edge said his commission hasn’t looked too closely at the prospect of retail cannabis in Berlin, but believes local leaders should keep an open mind.

“The town of Berlin has been making things and growing things for 150 years,” Edge said. 


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