Recently, a lawsuit was filed against New York’s social equity program for fledgling retailers. The lawsuit claims that the program is unconstitutional, and its existence is allowing the illicit market to thrive. This lawsuit was filed by a group called the Coalition for Regulated & Safe Access to Cannabis, which represents large companies that are already operating in New York under medical licenses and are seeking to enter the recreational market. They argue that the program is preventing them from accessing the legal weed industry, which they had invested millions of dollars in acquiring licenses.
The plaintiffs in the case have called on the state to open up licenses to the general public and take action to crack down on illegal cannabis businesses. This lawsuit is the second legal claim calling New York’s equity program unconstitutional. The first challenge was brought against the equity program’s residency requirements, which allegedly discriminated against out-of-state applicants.
Despite concerns raised by some industry players, there is support for the social equity program. It prioritizes cannabis entrepreneurs who were previously affected by prohibition, and many believe that state officials need to do more to ensure the legal weed industry’s success.
Allan Gandelman, president of the Cannabis Association of New York and owner of a farm upstate that has a provisional license to cultivate marijuana, said that as a grower, it’s taking too long to get the industry up and running. He wants CAURD licensees to be first to market, but he is also concerned that the lawsuit is just an attempt for large companies to take over the market.
Boris Jordan, founder and executive chairman of Curaleaf, a large, multi-state company with a medical license in New York, has criticized the state for promoting illegal cannabis and lowering testing standards for adult-use over medical, and allowing products that should never be sold in stores to be sold just so they can keep multi-state operators out of the market.
The lawsuit could force the state to open the legal cannabis market up before those in the social equity program have gotten the leg-up they were promised. It is a major threat to the CAURD program, according to Lauren Rudick, an attorney representing cannabis license holders and investors in New York and New Jersey.
The state Office of Cannabis Management did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. But Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesperson for the office, told Gothamist earlier this month that the state is still reviewing public comments on the general licensing regulations. Those rules must be finalized before the broader application window can open up.
The lawsuit against New York’s social equity program for fledgling retailers is causing concerns in the cannabis industry. The suit alleges that the program is unconstitutional, violates the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, and allows illicit shops to thrive. This lawsuit could force the state to open the legal cannabis market before those in the social equity program have been given the leg-up they were promised. Despite the concerns raised, there is support for the social equity program, and many believe that state officials need to do more to ensure the legal weed industry’s success. (Source)
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