As of yesterday August 7th, no new legal cannabis dispensaries are allowed to open in New York for the foreseeable future, due to a new lawsuit filed by four military veterans.
This halt in new store openings includes dispensaries that were well under way, with some due to open their doors in just weeks. Despite signing leases, hiring employees and ordering product, they are forced to remain unopened with no clear idea of when the lawsuit will be settled.
The military veterans are alleging, in their suit against New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), that the agency’s cannabis dispensary licensing process violates the state’s 2021 marijuana legalization law. The veterans argue that the OCM’s rules, favoring applicants with prior marijuana convictions, don’t align with the law’s goal of promoting social equity. The lawsuit seeks to stop the issuance of licenses under the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program, which prioritizes those with cannabis-related convictions.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) intended to allocate 50% of recreational marijuana dispensary licenses to socially and economically disadvantaged applicants. However, the OCM’s focus on prior convictions diverges from this intent. The veterans claim that the OCM’s approach excludes disabled veterans and minorities from obtaining licenses. The legal action spotlights broader discussions about equitable access to the growing cannabis market and its potential benefits for veterans dealing with health issues.
UPDATE: This restraining order is in place until this Friday on August 11th where a hearing will take place at the Ulster County Supreme Courthouse in Kingston, N.Y.