HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut plans to award at least three new licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, adding to the nine already in operation.

The state Department of Consumer Protection announced a request for applications for new facilities on Wednesday.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull says the medical marijuana program is growing rapidly and the dispensaries will help meet rising demand.

Applicants have until April 9 to respond to the application request.

The state first legalized medical marijuana in 2012. More than 20,000 people are currently in the program.