A federal judge on Tuesday partially lifted a temporary injunction barring
In August 2022, the OCM announced that the first CAURD licenses would be issued to companies headed by individuals with past convictions for marijuana-related crimes. Successful applicants receive aid from a $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, which was created to help finance the leasing and outfitting of up to 150 recreational marijuana dispensaries across the state. Earlier this month, the agency noted that the number of CAURD licenses would be doubled, bringing the total to 300.
“We think that leaning into folks who are not only justice-involved, but have that business experience means that we’re going to find a bunch of applicants who have gone through some significant challenges to still open and operate successful businesses,” OCM executive director Chris Alexander
To qualify for a cannabis retail license, applicants must be based in New York, as evidenced by a personal or corporate address included on the application. Additionally, a principal applicant or relative must have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense in New York. Those who were arrested but not convicted and those with federal or out-of-state convictions are not eligible.
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New York’s criteria for obtaining a CAURD license was challenged by Variscite NY One Inc., a company that was denied a retail dispensary license by the OCM. The company is majority owned by Kenneth Gay, who was convicted of a marijuana offense in the state of Michigan. The company’s application was rejected by the OCM, however, because Variscite “is [51%] owned by an individual who has a cannabis conviction under Michigan law” and “has no significant connection to New York,”
In November, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe issued a temporary injunction barring the OCM from issuing cannabis retail licenses in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, the Mid-Hudson and Brooklyn regions of the state, which Variscite had listed on its application as preferred business locations. Licenses to be issued in 11 other regions, including the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, were not affected by the injunction.
On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit lifted the injunction for four of the affected regions. With the temporary injunction rescinded in all but the Finger Lakes region of
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“New York’s brand-new cannabis industry is making significant progress to promote social equity and right the wrongs of the past, creating the fairest and safest market in the nation,” Hochul
Michelle Bodian, a partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, hailed the lifting of the injunction in a statement to High There.
“CAURD applicants in the previously enjoined regions have reason to celebrate today,” she wrote in an email. “Now that the legal barrier preventing them from being awarded a license has been removed, they are back on track to eagerly awaiting word from the state whether they’ll be able to open up a dispensary in New York.”