New York’s Cannabis Control Board announced Tuesday that it has approved a settlement for a lawsuit filed by an out-of-state business owner. It is a decision that paves the way for the state agency to begin approving cannabis dispensary licenses in the Finger Lakes region.
Michigan-based Variscite NY One filed a legal challenge to the state’s selection process in September, claiming it favors New York residents over out-of-state residents in violation of constitutional interstate commerce protections.
As a result, a federal judge temporarily blocked New York from issuing recreational marijuana dispensary licenses in Brooklyn and parts of upstate New York — including the Finger Lakes — while the challenge was being considered.
That injunction was lifted for most regions in March except for the Finger Lakes region.
The settlement announced this week would allow the state Office of Cannabis Management to move forward with the Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program and begin awarding licenses in the Finger Lakes.
Office of Cannabis Management General Counsel Linda Baldwin said during the televised meeting that the confidential settlement will be filed this week. She noted that under the settlement, the plaintiff will be granted an adult use retail dispensary license when they are available.
New York state Senator Jeremy Cooney, who chairs the senate subcommittee on cannabis, said he is relieved and pleased that OCM has reached a settlement in the Variscite lawsuit.
“Hopefully, we can put this roadblock for the Finger Lakes Region behind us and focus on creating safe and legal access to recreational cannabis for adults in Greater Rochester,” Cooney said in a statement. “Public safety cannot be achieved in our state until all New Yorkers – including those of us in the Finger Lakes Region – can walk into a legal dispensary and purchase cannabis products that have been tracked and tested.”
The Cannabis Control Board and OCM recently announced plans to increase the number of CAURD licenses that will be issued from the originally planned 150 to 300 licenses.
That means in the Finger Lakes region, the number of licenses will double to 18 from 9.
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