The settlement will pave the way for new dispensaries to open across the Empire State.
The New York Cannabis Control Board has approved a settlement resolving two lawsuits and, potentially, ending a months-long moratorium on the opening of new marijuana dispensaries across the state.
According to The New York Times, the agreement would preserve the Empire State’s interim licensing program, which gives people convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses priority in opening new cannabis-based businesses.
The Cannabis Control Board, adds WXXI News, approved the resolution in a brief emergency meeting on Monday. The settlement is expected to be submitted to Ulster County Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant, who must approve the agreement before it can take effect.
Nevertheless, both parties have since praised the tentative resolution, saying that they hope their agreement will bring some closure.
“Today’s approval of the settlement agreement by the New York State Cannabis Control Board marks a momentous step forward in our mission to cultivate a diverse and inclusive cannabis market,” said Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright. “Once this settlement is approved, we are hopeful those impacted by the injunction will be empowered to open their storefronts and embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, bringing us closer to our goals.”
The proposed settlement has also garnered praise from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said the agreement will “allow us to move forward toward this worthy goal, expanding the number of legal cannabis retailers as we continue our significant efforts to shut down illegal storefronts.”
Marijuana. Image via MaxPixel. Public domain.
The New York Times notes that an Ulster County judge had earlier froze the interim cannabis licensing program after a group of disabled veterans filed a lawsuit, in which they claimed that they were illegally excluded from applying for licenses.
Their arguments, writes the Times, was largely borrowed from another lawsuit, filed in March by a coalition of litigants including several medical marijuana companies.
The settlement would end both lawsuits.
New York state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, chair of the Senate subcommittee on cannabis, emphasized that the resolution could create a fairer and more equitable marketplace.
“I’m pleased this legal challenge is behind us and we can focus on the future of the cannabis industry in New York,” Cooney said. “My priority is to jumpstart the legal retail market to ensure safe and legal cannabis across the state. We made a promise to New Yorkers to create the most equitable marketplace in the nation, and we still have work to do.”
Attorneys, meanwhile, have urged some caution, saying that—while they are pleased with the apparent outcome—it may take time for the settlement to be finalized.
“I think, with this, you are beginning to see a new chapter in New York state cannabis,” said attorney Ryan McCall. “I think everyone here is looking cautiously, but optimistically, [to] turn the page and be able to move on to the next round.”
Details of the agreement have not yet been made public, but plaintiffs already appear hopeful.
“The judge still has to sign off on the stipulation agreement,” said Carmine Fiore, one of the disabled veterans involved in the second lawsuit. “That is what we are waiting for. We don’t know how long it’s going to take, or what is going to be the next obstacle.”
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