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Under New York’s equity-focused approach to cannabis legalization, the state’s first marijuana retail sales are expected to come from businesses owned by people who were harmed by the War on Drugs.
However, NY’s first-round licensing program appears to conflict with language in the state’s cannabis legalization law passed last year — and may open the Empire State to legal challenges.
The primary conflict lies in language specifying who gets the chance to apply for a license and when: The 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act said the license application period for retail sites shall open for everyone at the same time, while this year’s Conditional Adult-Use Recreational Dispensary program narrows that potential group of people to a much smaller number.
Three lawyers who talked to NY Cannabis Insider about the statutory language expressed differing opinions on whether it presents a legal vulnerability, but all said they doubted legal challenges based on the conflict could slow the state from starting recreational sales.
“Is it something that the Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management should be concerned about? Certainly,” said Andrew Schriever, a partner