NY Judge Revises Cannabis Marketing Laws After Leafly Lawsuit

New York’s adult-use cannabis industry has been on a wild ride over the past couple of days, all thanks to a series of legal twists and turns. It all started when Leafly Holdings took the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to court last year. Their beef? New York’s ban on third-party advertising for cannabis retailers, arguing it violated free speech rights.

The saga took a dramatic turn on April 3 when Albany Supreme Court Judge Kevin Bryant delivered a scathing ruling, slamming the state’s cannabis regulations as “unconstitutionally vague.” Bryant didn’t hold back, criticizing the OCM for its lack of justification for the laws governing New York’s cannabis industry. In his initial ruling, Bryant struck down almost all of the statutes regulating the state’s cannabis market, sending shockwaves through the industry – because if all regulations are nulled, what would that mean for existing businesses as well as those planning to join the industry soon?

But just when everyone was reeling from the fallout, Bryant issued a revised, much narrower ruling the following day. This time, he specifically targeted the ban on third-party advertising, declaring it “null and void and arbitrary and capricious.” The swift reversal left many scratching their heads and scrambling to make sense of the legal rollercoaster.

The fluid situation has left licensed cannabis operators and applicants in a state of confusion, struggling to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape. The panic rippled throughout the cannabis industry as businesses grappled with the uncertainty of what the revised ruling meant for their operations. And despite the judge revising his ruling, his initial ruling will be a major tool for future and pending lawsuits which can add to the turbulence and unpredictability that NY operators have already been living through.

Amidst the chaos, reactions from industry players varied. Callie Driehorst, a spokesperson for Leafly, welcomed the ruling, expressing hope that it would push the OCM to adopt a more reasonable approach to promoting licensed and regulated cannabis in the state. Well, of course Leafly is happy, because this ruling means they may finally be able to capitalize on the NY market.

The upheaval in New York’s regulated cannabis market comes at a time when it’s still struggling to find its footing, nearly three years after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was passed. Scandals, slow appointments, over 2000 unlicensed dispensaries and a barrage of lawsuits have plagued the rollout of legal cannabis in the state, contributing to a sluggish start. Word on the street is that the jobs of many top level employees at the OCM are at risk.

Despite these challenges, there’s optimism for the future of New York’s cannabis industry. As the dust settles from the legal showdown, stakeholders are hopeful that the revised ruling will pave the way for a more stable and successful market in the Empire State.

Jones, D. (2024, April 5). New York judge scales back order invalidating state’s cannabis regulations. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/legal/new-york-cannabis-regulations-invalidated-by-state-judge-2024-04-04/

New York court strikes down marijuana marketing rules. (2024, April 4). POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/news/2024/04/04/new-york-court-strikes-down-cannabis-marketing-rules-00150615

Roberts, C. (2024, April 5). Judge clarifies New York adult-use marijuana ruling after creating chaos. MJBizDaily. https://mjbizdaily.com/new-york-judge-invalidates-adult-use-marijuana-regulations/

End of: NY Judge Revises Cannabis Marketing Laws After Leafly Lawsuit