New York's Retail Marijuana Market In Legal Limbo While Illicit Sales Continue To Thrive

Legal Obstacles Continue To Slow Down Roll Out Of Legal Marijuana Market

New York cannabis shareholders and advocates have been in legal limbo for months after a federal judge issued an order barring the state's retail cannabis dispensary application process in some regions last year. The move affected dispensaries in Brooklyn, central New York, the Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson and western New York.

These regions have been waiting to obtain their Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses after a lawsuit was filed by Michigan-based Variscite NY One in November, which alleged that NY's licensing program discriminates against out-of-state operators, violating Dormant Commerce Clause.

However, on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe denied a motion to drop the case filed by the Office of Cannabis Management, reported Syracuse.com

"Defendants' arguments regarding irreparable harm to them, the relative lack of harm Variscite faces, and the public interest are … unpersuasive," Sharpe wrote.

Variscite initially filed the lawsuit last year after New York regulators decided it was ineligible for CAURD due to being 51% owned by a person who has been convicted of a cannabis crime in Michigan and had no meaningful connection to New York.

NYC Police Raid Staten Island Stores Selling Illicit Marijuana

While the legal retail cannabis market struggles to get up and running as witnessed by only two legal pot shops operating in New York City, the illicit marijuana market continues to thrive.

In a new push to address the trend, NYC's Sheriff's Office raided eight locations on Staten Island, reported FOX 5 New York.

Officers, who collected bags of weed flower and edibles, pointed to a few tricks illegal cannabis sellers have been using to store marijuana, such as a water bottle where with a detachable bottom.

Packaging attractive to children was also found at all illicit locations.

New York state officials and lawmakers met recently to negotiate ways to tackle the issue of retailers who are selling stickers and illegally "gifting" their customers with cannabis.

Republican politicians, including State Senator Tom O'Mara, Assembly members Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend met with law enforcement and local leaders where they called on Governor Kathy Hochul and her Dem colleagues to approve the legislation S9365/A9815.

Marijuana Farmers Will Have More Time To Decide On 2023 Business Plan

Meanwhile, the 280 conditionally licensed cannabis farmers have until the end of February to decide on their cultivation plans for 2023 after the regulators extended a deadline, according to a farmer known to Green Market Report.

Brittany Carbone, who serves on the Cannabis Association of New York's board said the state Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will meet the farmers' requests and give all 280 growers until Feb. 28 to choose from four cultivation plans. In addition, OCM said it would not compel growers to stick to their chosen scheme but rather give them time, including those who have already made their minds up, to decide or to change their plans.

"I'm happy they got back to us, that they extended the deadline, and allowing for that choice to be made again," Carbone said.

The initial deadline was Jan. 13, but the deadline was extended once before to Feb. 1, after the Cannabis Association of New York (CANY) joined forces with several licensed cultivators and members who complained to the state regulator. The growers received the initial notice in late December.

Photo: Courtesy of Luca Bravo on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralBrittany CarboneChris FriendGary Sharpemarijuananew yorkPhil PalmesanoretailSalesTom O'Mara
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