A legal battle over New York’s cannabis law could hurt this year’s marijuana crop

A legal battle that has prevented New York from issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries in some parts of the state could hurt small farms that have just harvested their first cannabis crop, officials warned Tuesday.

On Monday, New York issued its first 36 dispensary licenses, which will become the only places in the state where recreational marijuana is legally sold.

However, the state has had to delay plans to allow dozens more dispensaries because of a legal battle over licensing criteria.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharp in Albany blocked the state from issuing licenses in Brooklyn and parts of upstate New York after a company owned by a Michigan resident challenged the requirement that applicants demonstrate a “substantial presence in New York State.” .

In a court filing Tuesday, the state asked a judge to loosen that ban to prevent jeopardizing the roughly $1.5 billion worth of marijuana crops now waiting to be distributed to retailers.

“If farmers who have already been issued grower licenses have nowhere to sell their crops, they will lose the millions of dollars that have been collectively invested in their businesses, some may lose their businesses and otherwise be forced out of business in a difficult situation. either watch their crops rot and expire or sell them on the illegal market,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Amanda Kuryluk.

A court filing on behalf of the state’s Office of Cannabis Management suggests the company challenging its exclusion from the pool of applicants, Variscite NY One, will likely only be considered for a dispensary in the central Finger Lakes region of the state.

Blocking the state from approving licenses in four other regions, including central and western New York, the mid-Hudson and Brooklyn, would cause “significantly more harm than necessary,” the state argued.

It is unclear when Sharpe may rule on the motion.

Christian Kernkamp, ​​an attorney representing Variscite, said in an emailed statement that the company had hoped to settle the case before it interfered with marijuana sales, but the state declined to settle.

“The injunction could end tomorrow, but the state prefers to litigate instead, even though the court has already found a ‘clear probability’ that the state violated Variscite’s constitutional rights,” he said.

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