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What’s the deal with these cannabis license legal challenges?

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A new legal challenge has halted cannabis licensing in New York, questioning the constitutionality of the state’s prioritization process.

Four disabled veterans filed a lawsuit against New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), alleging that the current licensing process violates the state’s separation of powers by favoring those who are “justice-involved,” individuals with a past cannabis conviction or a relative with one. New York Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant, in his decision, highlighted that the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which legalized cannabis and formed the OCM, mandates the promotion of diversity in licensing. He noted that the Act does not specify prioritizing justice-involved applicants for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses.

This injunction follows a previous six-month delay in the Finger Lakes region due to another lawsuit challenging the New York residency requirement for cannabis licensing.

While the latest injunction poses a setback, licensees who had their paperwork in order before August 7th are exempt and can continue operations. The OCM expressed its commitment to creating an equitable cannabis market and plans to appeal for exemptions for ready-to-open licensees.