Pivotal Meeting for New York Market Still Leaves Unanswered Questions

Despite the landmark day on Tuesday in New York – with cannabis regulators signing off on a final rules package and setting Oct. 4 as the opening date for the public at large to apply for marijuana business licenses – the event left most stakeholders with plenty of unanswered questions.

For instance, it’s still not clear how much the Office of Cannabis Management may actually switch up its current policies in future regulation changes. Several high-ranking staffers, such as Executive Director Chris Alexander, referred to it as a “living document” that will evolve over time.

But New York attorney Michelle Bodian, a partner at Vicente LLP, was skeptical that major revisions will be made, such as the demand from small farmers that regulators reverse course on a May decision to let big multistate operators like Acreage Holdings and PharmaCann into the market later this year, instead of forcing them to wait three years.

“I don’t think any of the major provisions here are changing,” she said, pointing out that if the OCM changed its mind once again, then it could be inviting yet another lawsuit from the multistate operators.

Bodian also said it’s not clear yet when regulators may decide to cut off licensing or how many of what type of each permit they may issue, since state law doesn’t have any caps and regulators haven’t made clear how they’ll decide when the market is saturated.

There’s also a possibility that the OCM could decide that each applicant may be limited to one type of license application apiece, she said.

Future for CAURD Applicants Up in the Air

It’s also still quite murky just what the next steps will be for the 400 or so conditional adult use retail dispensary (CAURD) licensees that have been put in limbo by a court case filed last month which resulted in a preliminary injunction that froze all permit processing.

Bodian said she expected some sort of intel to be shared by the Cannabis Control Board during its Tuesday meeting, but the situation was barely mentioned.

It’s possible that, depending on what the judge orders in that case, that CAURD license recipients may have to re-apply after the Oct. 4 window opens, Bodian said. There may also be an administrative fix, to simply shift the approved applications over without forcing entrepreneurs to redo every step they already went through.

But at this point, there are no answers yet to be had, Bodian said.

Although many attendees at the CCB hearing on Tuesday called for the CAURD program to be set in statute by state lawmakers – one of the only legal solutions that experts suggest would quell the current court order and underlying lawsuit – the legislature is in recess until January, and all signals are there won’t be a special session called by the governor.

“I don’t see anything indicating that anyone is going to call an emergency session for this,” Bodian said.

Which means the future of the entire CAURD program is still up in the air.

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