Legal settlement paves way for marijuana retail licensing in NY region

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

A settlement between New York cannabis regulators and a Michigan plaintiff will finally open up retail licensing in the state’s Finger Lakes region.

The five-member Cannabis Control Board this week unanimously approved the agreement with Michigan-based Variscite NY One, according to The (Syracuse) Post-Standard’s NY Cannabis Insider.

Variscite had filed a lawsuit in November seeking an injunction against the state after unsuccessfully applying for licenses in five regions.

A federal judge granted the company a temporary restraining order which blocked the issuance of licenses for months in the Finger Lakes, as well as Brooklyn, Central New York, Mid-Hudson and Western New York.

In late March, a federal judge halted the injunction in four regions but left the temporary restraining order in force in the Finger Lakes, where Michigan resident Kenneth Gay sued the state Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) on behalf of his marijuana company, Variscite.

The suit alleges that the requirement that cannabis retail applicants have both a “significant presence” in New York and a criminal record for a marijuana-related conviction under state law creates irreparable damage to the company.

It’s one of several marijuana social equity programs Gay is challenging across the country, including Los Angeles.

Lifting the Variscite injunction will clear regulators to ultimately issue as many as 18 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses in the Finger Lakes after doubling the number of available retail licenses in March to 300 for adult-use social equity applicants.

Under the settlement, Variscite would be guaranteed an adult-use retail license once licensing resumes, reported The (Syracuse) Post-Standard’s NY Cannabis Insider.