New York’s cannabis regulator facing lawsuit over licensing policies

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Businesses are joining forces to take on the state over its launch of cannabis

Some medical marijuana companies in New York appear to be unhappy with the state’s industry regulators. A group of these businesses has banded together to sue officials, demanding that all retail dispensary applicants be able to obtain a license immediately. The recreational cannabis market in the state is booming, and it seems that many are eager to be part of the party as soon as possible.

The lawsuit was filed in state court in Albany. In it, the plaintiffs claim that state marijuana regulators went beyond the law when they only allowed people with prior cannabis convictions to apply for the first round of licenses in August. This left established medical cannabis stores still waiting in line for their turn. Governor Kathy Hochul had made it clear that the market would be initiated through a social equity program, but it appears that many stakeholders disagree with that initiative.

The Bureau of Cannabis Management, the state Cannabis Control Board and even some top officials have been named defendants in the recent legal action. Offering the first option to people with prior marijuana convictions or their family members is a way to make amends to people who have been affected by drugs, as that generated an incredible number of disproportionate arrests of Latinos and blacks.

However, through a memorandum filed in the lawsuit, the medical cannabis businesses state that the cannabis regulatory boards “overstepped their regulatory authority.” As a result, “licensing the hundreds of additional dispensaries needed to meet consumer demand and drive out illegal markets was postponed indefinitely.”