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‘IT’S LIKE THE WILD, WILD WEST’

Loophole allows THC seltzers to be sold in Conn., but they could soon have their own set of rules

- By Jordan Nathaniel Fenster STAFF WRITER

THC seltzers can get you high, but Connecticu­t lawmakers are poised to put them in a category all their own, distinct from every other product that contains THC.

Connecticu­t will likely create a separate system for taxation of THC seltzers with different rules than those governing cannabis products, so infused beverages can remain in package stores.

Rino Ferrarese, owner of Affinity

Grow in Portland, is one of only six operationa­l cannabis growers in Connecticu­t. He said he’s heard from cannabis food and beverage manufactur­ers, retailers and cultivator­s, and, “Nobody wants the beverage alcohol industry selling cannabis products.”

“Connecticu­t’s market is still young and many businesses are still in the process of opening. It doesn’t make sense to give away the beverage sales in advance of the food and beverage manufactur­ers becoming operationa­l,” he said. “Especially since the package stores will purchase THC beverages from outside the program.”

Should the bill pass in its most recent form, the state will effectivel­y create four categories of products with THC, each with their own set of regulation­s.

Cannabis products may only be grown, produced and tested in Connecticu­t, and may only be sold by legal, licensed retailers and medical cannabis dispensari­es. Cannabis products are subject to both state and local taxes, in part dependent on how potent they are.

Home-grown cannabis is legal but limited to six plants, three mature and three immature, grown indoors. High-THC hemp products are derived from plants with THC concentrat­ion lower than 0.3 percent by dry weight, but have been chemically altered to be more potent.

THC-infused beverages would be in their own category. sold in package stores or licensed cannabis retailers — not in supermarke­ts, restaurant­s or bars —and would con

ters, according to UBS.

But as defense contractor­s and other big industrial companies line up to report their latest results, the hope is that profit growth will broaden out to a wider range of companies.

Consider General Dynamics, which reports results Wednesday. Analysts forecast its earnings

per share jumped nearly 12% from a year earlier, according to FactSet. That would be a big accelerati­on from last year’s first-quarter growth of roughly 1%. The company is expected to benefit from solid demand for its Gulfstream business jets and from European defense agencies.

Or Waste Management, which reports on Thursday. Analysts expect it to show an accelerati­on in profit growth to 15.3%

from 1.6%. They say it’s benefiting from higher prices for its collection and disposal services.

Give credit to the remarkably resilient U.S. economy, which continues to hum despite high interest rates meant to bring inflation down. The expectatio­n is that strength should translate into stronger revenues for companies broadly, which in turn should convert them into profits.

“This recovery in sectors beyond tech is part of the broadening out of stock index performanc­e that we expected,” strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute wrote in a recent report.

Even more pressure than usual is on companies to deliver improved profits. That’s because a months-long rally took U.S. stocks to record highs in March, and now look expensive: The S&P 500 was recently

trading at 20.6 times the expected earnings per share of its companies in the coming 12 months, according to FactSet. That’s well above its average of 17.8 over the last 10 years.

The other lever that sets stock prices besides corporate profits, interest rates, looks unlikely to offer a lift anytime soon. Stubbornly high inflation has forced traders to give up on hopes for several cuts to interest rates this year from the Federal Reserve.

 ?? Kalleen Ozanic/Hearst Connecticu­t Media Group ?? Stew Leonard’s Wines and Spirits of Norwalk, Danbury and Newington started stocking their shelves with THC beverages in September 2023. The CANN THC tonics pictured above at the Norwalk location come in flavors like lemon lavender, grapefruit rosemary, and blood orange cardamom.
Kalleen Ozanic/Hearst Connecticu­t Media Group Stew Leonard’s Wines and Spirits of Norwalk, Danbury and Newington started stocking their shelves with THC beverages in September 2023. The CANN THC tonics pictured above at the Norwalk location come in flavors like lemon lavender, grapefruit rosemary, and blood orange cardamom.

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