BUFFALO, N.Y. — In November, a federal court blocked New York from issuing Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses in five regions of the state.

This week, an appeals court lifted the order for all but one of those regions.

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander says there is more litigation ahead.

"It's not taking a victory lap yet but we are happy that this past week the court has allowed the program to move forward, licensing to be issued in Western New York, in Syracuse/Central New York, in the Hudson Valley as well as in Brooklyn," he said.

OCM is still hoping the court will lift the injunction in the Finger Lakes, the preferred location for applicant Variscite NY One. The Michigan-based company is challenging residency requirements of the state's licensing program.

Hodgson Russ Law Firm's Cannabis and Hemp group leader PJ Hines said even as the state moves forward with its full licensing program and opens up the eligible applicant pool, he expects attorneys will eventually argue the merits of the case in court.

"Some of the grounds for the lawsuit go beyond just the requirement of having a cannabis conviction in New York,” he said. “It also goes to requirements for all licensing in New York.”

In the meantime, the Cannabis Control Board meets Monday. Hines said it's not clear yet if it will approve applications for the newly opened regions.

"They have said that they've looked at those license applications, they've processed them and they're essentially ready to move soon," he said.

Hines said applicants can begin preparing things like securing their leases, getting security plans ready and reaching out to suppliers.

"In terms of when a particular applicant or licensee I should say is going to open up is really applicant dependent. One would think they should have all their ducks in a row when they make their application so they should be able to open as soon as possible," he said.

OCM in the meantime says it’s cracking down on the so-called gray market, in partnership with law enforcement, seizing millions of dollars in product over the last several months.

"Our focus remains rolling this program out and making sure that people who've been impacted have real opportunities to participate moving forward, but they can only be successful if we close these shops down and that's what we're committed to do," Alexander said.

Gov. Hochul introduced legislation to give OCM more authority and resources to go after illegal businesses.