The state Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit that claims some New Yorkers who applied for state-issued cannabis licenses were unfairly given preferential treatment.
A court hearing was held Friday in Kingston. A ruling in the case could reshape the state's cannabis industry.
Christine Richardson was overcome with emotion when she was finally granted a license to open a cannabis dispensary in Albany. She’s a justice-involved individual.
What You Need To Know
- A preliminary injunction restraining order remains in effect for new cannabis stores and licenses
- A New York State Supreme Court judge gave the green light for 23 cannabis dispensaries to open immediately amid the injunction
- The state filed an appeal to the preliminary injunction, which will be heard by the Appellate Division
“I got in an email and I just started crying because it's been a long, long time, and we're kind of one of the last ones here that are… New York's been a little bit behind," she said.
But the opening date of her shop, Royal Flower, on Halloween could be in jeopardy. A preliminary injunction set by the state Supreme Court is stopping new cannabis businesses from opening due to a lawsuit.
The case before Judge Kevin Bryant was brought by four military veterans who applied for licenses to sell cannabis. They allege the license process by New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, or OCM, goes against what was set into law in March 2021. Specifically, that OCM is giving priority to people who had a previous marijuana conviction in New York over disabled vets and other groups.
The assistant attorney general representing OCM said a drawn-out court battle would be devastating for small business owners who would be unable to open during the lawsuit, some of whom have already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in start-up costs.
“Delaying and preventing us honest, hardworking, taxpaying people from launching their small businesses, who benefits from this? Obviously, these large corporations that are trying to disrupt and delay the market for their own purposes," said The Cannabis Place founder Osbert Orduña.
While the two sides did not settle, there was some good news for license holders.
The court allowed 23 of them to open immediately, granting them an exception from the preliminary injunction.
“The judge said, 'we're going to move forward with the proposed list that was provided from the state,'" said Jorge Luis Vasquez Jr., an attorney for cannabis license holders. "And furthermore, that the judges agreeing with our position that we should be able to represent our clients directly to the judge.”
The state also filed an appeal to the preliminary injunction. That appeal hasn’t been scheduled with the Appellate Division yet.
Richardson said licenses and store openings can’t keep getting delayed.
“In the long run, everyone will make out from this," she said. "It just, it's been a real slow process. So everybody's been real frustrated. And this is why we keep ending up in court.”
The case will be back in court in Kingston at 10 a.m. Sept. 12.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, but did not immediately hear back.