A court battle over New York’s cannabis law could hurt this year’s marijuana harvest

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A court fight that has prevented New York from issuing marijuana dispensary licenses in some parts of the state could end up hurting small farms that just harvested their first crop of cannabis, authorities warned a judge Tuesday.

New York issued its first 36 dispensary licenses Monday, which will become the only places in the state where recreational marijuana is legally sold.

However, the state has had to delay plans to license dozens more dispensaries due to a legal battle over its licensing criteria.

US District Court Judge Gary Sharpe in Albany prevented the state from issuing licenses in Brooklyn and parts of upstate New York after a Michigan resident-owned business challenged the requirement that applicants show “a significant presence in New York state.”

In a court filing Tuesday, the state asked the judge to relax that injunction to avoid jeopardizing an estimated $1.5 billion worth of marijuana crop now waiting to be distributed to retailers.

“If farmers, who have already been issued cultivation licenses, have nowhere to sell their crop, they will lose the millions of dollars that have been collectively invested in their businesses, some may lose their businesses and otherwise be forced to to the situation. watching their crops rot and expire or selling them on the illicit market,” Deputy Attorney General Amanda Kuryluk wrote.

The court filing, made on behalf of the state’s Office of Cannabis Administration, suggested that the company challenging its exclusion from the applicant pool, Variscite NY One, would likely only be considered for a dispensary in the central Finger Lakes region. of the state.

Blocking the state from approving licenses in four other regions, including central and western New York, central Hudson, and Brooklyn, would cause “significantly more damage than necessary,” the state argued.

It was not clear when Sharpe would be able to rule on the request.

Christian Kernkamp, ​​an attorney representing Variscite, said in an emailed statement that the company hoped to settle the case before it ended up hampering marijuana sales, but the state refused to settle.

“The injunction could end tomorrow, but the State prefers to litigate even though the court has already found a ‘clear probability’ that the State violated Variscite’s constitutional rights,” he said.

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