More legal challenges to New York marijuana licensing process

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Another lawsuit has been filed challenging the marijuana business licensing process in New York.

The latest challenge, filed Monday in the Supreme Court of New York in Albany County, was brought by seven women-owned social equity cannabis companies that claim state regulators broke rules when they implemented a “randomized queue” to review more than 2,000 applications.

The lawsuit, first reported by Green Market Report, aims to halt the licensing process, a tactic that has been used successfully in New York and elsewhere.

That action follows a separate suit filed last week by a microbusiness license applicant claiming the state’s equity push to prioritize those harmed by marijuana arrests discriminates against white men.

The lawsuits come amid a recent push to strengthen social equity provisions laid out in New York’s 2021 legalization law and a mea culpa from the governor on the botched rollout of the adult-use program, which launched in late December 2022.

The Times-Union of Albany on Thursday reported that a push is under way to establish legislation to codify the conditional licensing program developed by the Office of Cannabis Management to prioritize applicants with marijuana arrests and convictions.

The proposals pushed by the New York Cannabis Retail Association, according to the newspaper, have allegedly received an endorsement from Gov. Kathy Hochul, who recently called the state’s rollout of recreational cannabis retail a “disaster.”

“I will not defend that for one second,” Hochul recently told The Buffalo News editorial board.

She also said it was a “bad idea” for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which focuses on construction and financing, to find and secure locations for social equity retailers.

“There’s a strong part of me that would just like to go in and just start over,” she told the News.

“But I’d have to go back to the Legislature and convince them to change the laws. It’s probably not likely to happen.”