Settlement talks end without deal in New York marijuana licensing suits

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Negotiations between New York state lawyers, some social equity applicants and a group of multistate operators to settle two related lawsuits over marijuana retail licensing have ended without a compromise.

The state attorney general’s office ended talks this week with the Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported.

The talks began after an Aug. 11 court hearing in which a state Supreme Court justice gave the parties two weeks to reach an agreement.

That hearing included oral arguments from New York cannabis regulators and attorneys representing a group of military veterans shut out from applying for retail licenses.

The veterans lawsuit, filed earlier this month in the state Supreme Court in Albany, argues the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) overstepped its authority under New York’s 2021 legalization law by opening the licensing application window first to those with marijuana-related offenses and their immediate family rather than allowing all applicants to apply at the same time.

The veterans lawsuit against the OCM is similar to one filed in March by MSOs aiming to gain entry in the state’s developing adult-use cannabis retail market.

Several MSOs in that lawsuit are among the 10 companies that serve the state’s medical marijuana market.

In the meantime, a temporary injunction enacted Aug. 11 remains in place preventing the state’s Cannabis Control Board and OCM from issuing, approving or processing licenses, essentially halting the state’s marijuana retail licensing process.

New York Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant, who issued the temporary injunction and told the parties to try reach a settlement, is expected to consider a request to issue a preliminary injunction against the state at an Aug. 25 hearing, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Bryant could determine during that hearing whether the retail licensing halt stays in place as the lawsuits move forward or if the temporary injunction is lifted.