The New York State Supreme Court has formerly removed an injunction that had prevented state marijuana regulators from considering a flood of new store licenses, paving the way for a massive expansion of the state’s marijuana market. The court’s ruling comes only days after the state’s marijuana control board, CCB, reached agreements to settle two cases that had stalled regulators’ licensing procedures since August.
In one of those resolved claims, a collective of war veterans sued the CCB, claiming that Ney York’s license prioritizing policy, which focused on social-equity entities affected by criminalization, unlawfully barred veterans with disabilities from candidacy. In the resolution, authorities consented to drop the lawsuit in exchange for approving a provincial recreational marijuana store license for each of the four complainants at a predetermined location. Additionally, the state committed to delaying approvals for any further conditional licenses until April next year to address the existing backlog. The CCB will also form a task force dedicated to service-disabled veterans’ businesses to promote veteran involvement in the marijuana industry.
The second lawsuit, also resolved, involved existing medical-marijuana operators and potential recreational-use applicants who argued that state regulators were misinterpreting the state’s cannabis laws and that licensed companies should be eligible for immediate licensure. In adherence to the court-approved settlement terms, regulators will grant recreational cannabis licenses to the five registered groups involved in the lawsuit.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her satisfaction with the court’s ruling, stating that it paves the way for quicker store openings, expanded legal marijuana options and enhanced enforcement against illicit activities in the market.
Presently, there are approximately 24 licensed recreational cannabis stores in the state. Despite the legal obstacles, regulators began accepting applications for hundreds of new general cannabis company licenses in October. The prolonged rollout has seen an increase in illicit marijuana operators throughout the state, prompting heightened enforcement measures. In response to the challenges in marijuana legalization implementation, the state Senate Marijuana Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Jeremy Cooney, held discussions on potential legislative solutions in October.
In other developments, Hochul recently enacted legislation aimed at facilitating financial institutions’ collaboration with state-licensed marijuana clients. Additionally, she signed separate legislation to provide tax relief to NYC cannabis businesses facing restrictions under the IRS code 280E. The legislative move complements an earlier budget bill from the previous year addressing state-level marijuana business tax deductions but leaving NYC’s tax laws unaffected. The new bill aims to bridge this policy gap.
Now that New York has had the injunction removed, the state can now get back on track to implementing cannabis regulation, a step that is a win for the broader cannabis industry, including key players such as Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF).
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