BUFFALO, N.Y. — The crux of a lawsuit filed last week in state Supreme Court claims the Office of Cannabis Management usurped the rulemaking authority of the state Legislature.
Legal analyst Matt Morey said the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act established service-disabled veterans as a sub-group of so-called social and economic equity applicants supposed to be prioritized for licenses.
"The statute specifically included those individuals as individuals that would be prioritized with respect to applying for and gaining approval of an adult use retail license," the attorney and partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria said.
However, during the regulatory process, a lawsuit filed by four veterans claims the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board unconstitutionally established a process that made a prior marijuana-related conviction an initial eligibility requirement.
"The regulations that were then adopted, well not necessarily prohibiting any disabled service veteran from applying, they would have to then satisfy the other various CAURD (conditional adult-use retail dispensary) requirements, which is that they were convicted of a marijuana-related offense prior to March 31 of 2021," Morey said.
A judge will hear arguments Friday in Kingston before deciding if the current iteration of the state's cannabis program is constitutional. On Monday, he issued a temporary injunction stopping the state from issuing any new licenses or approving any new dispensaries to open.
"This is going to drag things out even further,” Morey said. “This has not been a smooth rollout by any means with respect to these programs.”
Shops that are already open appear unaffected for now, however Morey says it’s unclear if that might change depending on the ultimate ruling.
"If the creation of the entire CAURD program is deemed to be unconstitutional, then that would then raise the question as to whether or not previously issued licenses are in fact invalid at this point under the program, and that remains to be seen," he said.
The OCM released a statement on Tuesday, saying:
"The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is aware of the Court's Order and is adhering to its requirements. We are actively communicating with CAURD applicants and provisionally approved licensees to inform them of the impact of the Court's order on OCM operations."