A federal court in New York on Tuesday cleared the way for state regulators to begin issuing adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses to prospective business owners in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
The New York Times reports that the the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan “lifted part of an injunction that prevented cannabis regulators from issuing licenses for recreational dispensaries in some parts of New York, removing a major obstacle for the state’s rollout.”
“The court’s decision allows regulators to issue 108 dispensary licenses in the regions that are no longer under the injunction: Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson and Brooklyn. But 18 licenses in the Finger Lakes region remain tied up in the lawsuit,” the Times explains.
“New licenses could be approved as soon as Monday, April 3, when the Cannabis Control Board holds its monthly meeting. At least 18 licenses in the affected regions have been ready for approval since November, the Office of Cannabis Management said at the time.”
New York launched its regulated adult-use cannabis market late last year with the opening of a licensed retailer in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood.
Two more have opened in Manhattan since then, while the first cannabis retailer in Queens opened on Thursday.
But New York City’s most populous borough, Brooklyn, has thus far been shut out following an injunction in November by a federal court in Syracuse, New York.
The ruling by that court came in response to a lawsuit filed by a Michigan cannabis company that challenged New York’s licensing requirements.
But this week’s partial removal of the injunction also paves the way for other highly populated areas in New York state to join the regulated weed market.
“The removal of the injunction paves the way for dispensaries to open in some of the state’s most populous areas, including Buffalo, Syracuse and the Hudson Valley, giving farmers and manufacturers — who have been sitting on a mountain of inventory — more places to sell their weed. But getting from licensing to opening is a process that can take several months. Since November, regulators have issued dispensary licenses to 56 businesses and 10 nonprofit groups. So far, only five stores have opened, in Manhattan, Ithaca and Binghamton; two more are scheduled to open this week, in Queens and Schenectady.”
Tuesday’s ruling by the federal appeals court comes three weeks after the state of New York announced that it would be doubling the number of dispensary licenses.
“With this expansion, more entrepreneurs will be able to participate in the first wave of this industry, allowing them to capitalize on the growing demand for cannabis products,” Tremaine Wright, chair of the New York Cannabis Control Board, said at the time. “As more businesses enter this market, the innovation and competition will increase, leading to better quality experiences for consumers. The expansion of New York’s cannabis market will benefit everyone involved in this exciting industry.”
The first dispensary that opened in Queens this week also has the distinction of being the first woman-owned cannabis retailer in New York.
That weed shop, known as Good Grades, will begin as a pop-up.
“I am thrilled to be opening the doors of Good Grades, the very first dispensary in Queens, New York,” said Good Grades owner Extasy James.
“We are incredibly passionate about providing greater access to cannabis and breaking down the barriers that prevent so many people, especially those from marginalized communities, from experiencing the benefits of this amazing plant. We understand firsthand the stigma that has been attached to cannabis for far too long, and we are eager to join the thriving cannabis community to help change that. Our dispensary is a welcoming and inclusive space where anyone can come to learn, explore, and find the products that are best suited to their unique needs.”
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