New York Sued Over Social Equity Cannabis Retail Licensing Plan

March 17, 2023 · Ganjapreneur

A group that includes some of New York’s medical cannabis companies is suing the state over its plan to issue adult-use retail cannabis licenses to social equity applicants before opening applications to all businesses, Syracuse.com reports. The complaint alleges unconstitutional overreach and policymaking, egregious abdication of duties, and actions that put citizens’ health and safety at risk. 

The lawsuit was filed by the Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis which describes itself as “an unincorporated trade association.” The group includes Acreage Holdings, PharmaCann, Green Thumb Industries, and Curaleaf – all of which hold medical cannabis licenses in the state but are not permitted, yet, to apply for retail licenses as the state has so far only allowed what it considers social equity applicants to seek those licenses.  

The group also includes two hopeful dispensary owners and a medical cannabis practitioner in Westchester.      

The complaint argues that the state’s legalization law required the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and Cannabis Control Board (CCB) to open “the initial adult-use retail dispensary license application period … for all applicants at the same time” and that the agencies created the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program, which introduced a new license class separate from what legislators outlined in the legalization law and then only allowed license opportunities to a specific group. 

The lawsuit claims the agencies “improperly assumed the role of the Legislature to impose their own policies over those of New York’s elected officials and, by extension, their constituents.” 

Earlier this month, New York regulators doubled the number of available adult-use retail licenses in the state from 150 to 300. However, a report issued last month by by MPG Consulting concluded that if the state does not get retail cannabis businesses licensed soon, it could cost the state $2.6 billion in related tax revenues over eight years. The report was prepared by the firm for Acreage Holdings. 

The lawsuit is filed in Albany County Supreme Court.  (Full Story)

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