A court battle over New York’s cannabis laws could affect this year’s cannabis harvest

A court battle that has prevented New York from awarding licenses to distribute marijuana in some parts of the state could harm small farms that just harvested their first cannabis crop, officials have said. warned a judge on Tuesday.

New York on Monday issued the first 36 licenses to dispensaries, which will become the only place in the state to legally sell recreational marijuana.

However, the state has had to delay plans to allow more clinics because of a legal battle over its licensing criteria.

United States District Court Judge Gary Sharpe in Albany blocking state licensing in Brooklyn and upstate New York after a company owned by a Michigan resident objected to a requirement that applicants demonstrate a “substantial presence in the state of New York.”

In a court filing on Tuesday, the state asked the judge to relax that ban to prevent an estimated $1.5 billion worth of dangerous marijuana harvesting, which is currently pending distribution. distribution to retailers.

“If farmers, who have been granted farming permits, have nowhere to sell their produce, they will lose millions of dollars that have been collectively invested in their businesses, some of which could lose their jobs. business and otherwise they will be pushed into a predicament. about watching their crops rot and expire or sell them on the illegal market,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Amanda Kuryluk.

Court filings, filed on behalf of the state’s Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs, suggest that the company challenging its exclusion from the pool of applicants, Variscite NY One, will most likely only be considered for a drug distribution station in the Finger Lakes area in the central part of the state.

The state argued that blocking the state from approving permits in four other areas including central and western New York, between Hudson and Brooklyn, would cause “more significant harm than necessary.”

It is unclear when Sharpe may issue a ruling on this claim.

Christian Kernkamp, ​​an attorney representing Variscite, said in an emailed statement that the company had hoped to resolve the case before it impeded the sale of marijuana, but the state has refused to settle. .

The ban could end tomorrow, he said, but the State is more inclined to sue even though the court has found the ‘clear possibility’ that the State has violated Variscite’s constitutional rights.

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