The court action comes days after the State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved settlement agreements in two lawsuits that have enjoined regulators from moving ahead with licensing since August.
CCB Chair Tremain Wright said in a press release, “This decision brings much needed relief to the hundreds of provisional licensees who, until now, have had their businesses sidelined. We remain dedicated to upholding a fair and transparent process as we continue to grow and support New York’s cannabis industry.”
One of the lawsuits that’s been resolved under the approved 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.
In exchange for dropping the suit, regulators agreed to grant each of the four plaintiffs a provisional adult-use cannabis retailer license at a site that they’ve pre-selected. The state further agreed to pause approvals on any additional conditional licenses until April 2024 in the interest of focusing attention on processing the current backlog. Also, CCB will be establishing a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business task force responsible for promoting veteran participation in the marketplace.
The other lawsuit that’s now been settled 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.
Regulators accepted the terms of a settlement that the court approved, which means they will grant adult-use licenses to the five registered organizations behind the lawsuit.
Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “Our top priority is to grow and expand New York’s legal cannabis industry while cracking down on the illicit storefronts that continue to plague communities. With this settlement behind us, hundreds of new licenses can now move forward, new stores will open, and consumers can legally buy safer, legal, tested cannabis products from New York-based entrepreneurs and small businesses. Now, we’re putting the illicit storefronts on notice: competition from legal dispensaries is about to skyrocket, and we won’t hesitate to crack down on bad actors who break the law.”