NY Supreme Court Lifts Cannabis Licensing Injunction, Resumes Process For Applicants

The legal standoff that has prevented cannabis dispensaries across New York State from getting their licenses to operate was resolved late Friday when the NY Supreme Court lifted an injunction preventing the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) from processing Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary —or CAURD— dispensary licenses. That injunction had been in place since August when a group of veterans sued over the licensing process.

“Today is a good day for New York, for the dream of equity in cannabis, and for every New Yorker hoping to have a legal, licensed cannabis dispensary in their community,” OCM executive director Chris Alexander said in a statement sent at 4:20 p.m. Friday, reported WIVP. “I’m also deeply relieved for the many entrepreneurs, who have spent the last three months trapped in limbo, who are now able to open their cannabis businesses, and for our communities, which will soon begin to see more stores open faster.”

How Did We Get Here In The First Place?

The legal standoff originated from a lawsuit filed by four service-disabled veterans challenging the state’s licensing process. The plaintiffs, later joined by the Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis, accused state cannabis authorities of violating the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Allegedly, the agencies favored a select group of “justice-involved individuals” with a profitable “qualifying business” in the retail dispensary license application process.

On August 8, New York State Supreme Court Judge Kevin Bryant issued an injunction preventing the issuance of new licenses and the opening of most dispensaries. A subsequent order by Bryant allowed pre-approved licensees before August 7, 2023, to open their stores, with the possibility of case-by-case exemptions for others.

However, disputes arose over the OCM’s list of 30 businesses claiming exemption, leading Bryant to decide on individual rulings for exemption requests. Despite exemptions granted to some CAURD dispensaries, the legal wrangling cast uncertainty over New York’s cannabis regulatory framework.

This was not the first lawsuit against OCM over licenses. A similar lawsuit was brought by the Coalition for Access to Regulated and Safe Cannabis (CARSC), for allegedly violating MRTA by reserving the first 150 retail licenses for social equity applicants. The group involved in the lawsuit includes at least four large marijuana companies: Acreage Holdings Inc.Curaleaf Holdings Inc., Green Thumb Industries Inc., and PharmaCann.

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