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Last-Minute Lawsuit Blocks New York’s Recreational Licensing Program

Not the first time that the plaintiff has filed challenges to state-based social equity programs.




A challenge to New York’s social equity cannabis program has halted this issuance of licenses to more than a third of its districts. PHOTO DLLU CC BY-SA 4.0

A lawsuit filed by an individual in Michigan, who has brought similar challenges to cannabis social equity programs, has halted New York’s awarding of conditional adult-use retail dispensary (CAURD) licenses, reports

The licensing program, which was less than two weeks away from launching, was intended to set the foundation for an equitable industry in New York by helping those punished for cannabis offenses and their affected communities gain a foothold.

The lawsuit, filed in September by Kenneth Gay of Battle Creek, MI, caused U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe this week to block New York’s Office of Cannabis Management from issuing CAURD licenses in five districts: The Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson and Brooklyn. Licensing will proceed in other areas of the state, including  Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

Gay, a would-be applicant, claims his constitutional rights are being violated by New York’s licensing requirement to prove a “significant presence” in New York and to have suffered a pot-conviction in the state — both of which Gay lacks. Gay’s lawsuit contends the restrictions violate out-of-state businesses’ constitutional interstate commerce rights.

It is not the first time that Gay has filed challenges to state-based social equity programs. The New York Daily News reports in February Gay filed a similar lawsuit against the City of Sacramento — saying California’s residency requirements for a cannabis license also violates his constitutional rights and presents a burden to interstate commerce.

While a federal Court of Appeals in Maine facing a similar lawsuit struck down that state’s residency requirements, other states have fended off similar challenges on the basis that no legal interstate cannabis commerce currently exists with cannabis still a scheduled narcotic. Still, the pause in New York’s licensing will remain in effect, and justice delayed, while Gay’s case is pending.




Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified

Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.

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