New York’s first pot crop threatened by legal battle

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

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

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

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe in Albany blocked the state from issuing licenses in Brooklyn and parts of New York state after a company owned by a Michigan resident challenged a requirement that applicants demonstrate “a substantial presence in New York State. “

In a lawsuit Tuesday, the state asked the judge to loosen that injunction to prevent jeopardizing an estimated $1.5 billion worth of marijuana harvests that are now waiting to be distributed to retailers.

“If the farmers who have already been issued cultivation permits have nowhere to sell their crops, they will lose the millions of dollars that have been collectively invested in their businesses, some may lose their businesses, or they will be forced out in the difficult situation of either watching their crops rot and expire or sell them on the illegal market,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Amanda Kuryluk.

The court filing, made on behalf of the state Office of Cannabis Management, suggested that the company challenging its exclusion from the applicant pool, Variscite NY One, would most 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, the mid-Hudson and Brooklyn, would cause “significantly more harm than necessary,” the state argued.

It was unclear when Sharpe might rule on the request.

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

“The injunction could be over tomorrow, but the state prefers to file suit instead, even though the court has already found a ‘clear probability’ that the state violated Variscite’s constitutional rights,” he said.

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