New York Judge Halts Cannabis Licensing After Lawsuit by Military Veterans

A New York Supreme Court justice this week temporarily blocked the issuing of new retail cannabis licenses following a lawsuit by veterans who claim that officials have failed to follow social equity provisions in the state’s cannabis legalization law.

Full story after the jump.

A New York Supreme Court justice on Monday temporarily blocked state officials from issuing retail cannabis licenses following a lawsuit by military veterans who claim the state is not following the cannabis law’s social equity provisions, the Associated Press reports. 

The order by Justice Kevin Bryant also prohibits the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) from processing adult-use licenses.  

The veterans’ lawsuit argues that the OCM created a licensing system that runs afoul of the state’s adult-use cannabis law and improperly limits initial licenses to people with cannabis convictions rather than a wider category of social equity applicants. The lawsuit claims that the cannabis regulators overstepped their authority by creating the licensing category for people with convictions because that decision was not approved by the Legislature and that the decision violates the state constitution.   

Under the law, social equity applicants are defined as people from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, ethnic minority groups, women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled military veterans. The MRTA initially set aside 150 CAURD licenses; however, last month OCM approved an additional 212 CAURD licenses, bringing the total to 463.   

In a court filing, the attorney general’s office cautioned that halting the program will hurt retailers financially who are spending money to set up shop under provisional licenses. 

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Friday. 

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