The State Cannabis Control Board has approved settlement agreements in two lawsuits that could soon allow hundreds of cannabis businesses that have been blocked from opening amid litigation to finally begin operations.
At an emergency meeting of the board on Monday, members accepted the terms of settlement for two lawsuits, though they declined to disclose details. The agreements must still be formally accepted by the state Supreme Court before the injunction is lifted.
One of the lawsuits that would be resolved under the settlement was filed by a group of military veterans who argued that the state’s licensing prioritization of social equity applicants who were most impacted by criminalization unconstitutionally omitted disabled veterans from the eligibility pool.
The other lawsuit was brought by existing medical cannabis operators and prospective adult-use applicants. It similarly asserted that regulators were misapplying the state’s cannabis law, and they argued that current medical cannabis businesses should qualify for licensing immediately as well.
The settlement resolution was on the CCB agenda for its last meeting earlier this month, but members didn’t act until Monday’s special meeting.
CCB Chair Tremaine Wright said, “Some 436 professional licensees have had their business planning and rollout halted to a dead stop. New York state cannabis licensees throughout the supply chain have similarly been impacted by the delay of the retail rollout.”
State Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said in a press release that the state is now “one step closer to resolving litigation brought forth by equity entrepreneurs and our medical operators who felt that they were being left behind.”
Currently, there are only about two dozen licensed cannabis retailers in the state. Meanwhile, despite the injunction, regulators did open the application period for hundreds of new general cannabis business licenses last month.
In September, 66 state lawmakers wrote to Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to sign a bill that would allow licensed cannabis producers to sell products to tribal retailers. The plan would offer a release valve to hundreds of cannabis farmers who are currently sitting on surpluses but have no place to sell their products.