Fresh lawsuit targets New York’s rollout of adult-use marijuana

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New York regulators are facing yet another lawsuit aimed at stopping them from issuing any additional adult-use marijuana licenses.

The lawsuit – filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York by two companies seeking retail licenses – comes less than a month after regulators approved settlement agreements in two previous suits that contributed to the tortuous rollout of legal adult-use cannabis sales in the state.

In the new lawsuit, Variscite New York Four and Variscite New York Five argue that the state’s retail marijuana licensing program violates the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause, which generally prohibits states from passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens out-of-state citizens compared to in-state citizens.

Both companies are 51% owned by a Los Angeles man “who was convicted of a cannabis crime under California law rather than New York law,” the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit targets the state Office of Cannabis Management and its Cannabis Control Board, according to Spectrum News 1.

The suit was filed the day that the latest licensing round closed, Green Market Report noted.

According to Green Market Report, the suit claims that state residency requirements are unconstitutional and that the two plaintiffs’ applications should have received “extra priority” because they had secured properties for their businesses.

“Because Plaintiffs satisfy every requirement for the ‘extra priority’ pool except the unconstitutional New York residency preferences, Defendants should process Plaintiffs’ applications in the extra priority pool,” according to the lawsuit.

Last November, a company with a name similar to the two plaintiffs in the new lawsuit – Michigan-based Variscite NY One – filed a suit seeking an injunction against the state after unsuccessfully applying for licenses in five New York regions.

That lawsuit prevented retailers from opening across significant portions of the state, Spectrum News 1 noted.

And similar litigation has been filed against other social equity programs elsewhere in the country, including in Los Angeles.