A New York judge has hit the pause button on the opening of two dozen tax-paying pot shops in a fresh blow to the Empire State’s burgeoning – and floundering – cannabis industry meant to add millions to the state’s coffers.
Albany Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant said in a ruling that he wouldn’t allow 23 vendors to be exempt from his freeze on recreation weed licenses because the Office of Cannabis Management hadn’t shown that they met all requirements to open up shop.
In Tuesday’s decision, Bryant said a list of 30 businesses that OCM recommended should receive the exception did “not provide the clarity necessary for this court to determine whether or not a particular licensee should be exempt,” Bryant wrote.
Many applicants hadn’t finished construction yet, and others hadn’t yet had their sites inspected, the judge said.
Bryant said he wouldn’t lift the injunction for any business under the exemption until he received the proper “supporting” paperwork and reviewed each on a case-by-case basis.
The disabled vets who brought the case — Carmine Fiore, Dominic Spaccio, William Norgard and Steve Mejia — claimed that state agencies, including the Control Board, illegally made a requirement that applicants should have a weed-related conviction to be eligible for the first round of recreational license approvals.
This all while the state Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act had designated vets among the five “social and economic equity” groups that should fill at least 50% of the positions in the burgeoning weed industry.
Two and a half years after cannabis was legalized for recreational use, the state has a backlog of 463 cannabis-licensed operators. Of that number, only 37 marijuana retailers have opened statewide, 21 of which can sell recreational pot, and only seven are authorized to sell recreational weed in the city, according to state records.
The judge said he didn’t have the proper documentation showing that the proposed vendors were ready to open up shop.Helayne Seidman
The judge previously blocked the licensing process in a suit claiming the state favored felons over disabled vets when issuing approvals.Billy Becerra / NY Post
The Empire State is not even on track to make a predicted $56 million in its first year of legal weed sales – and that’s just a fraction of what other states made after legalization, according to a report backed by New York medical marijuana operators.
The Control Board didn’t immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
A rep for the plaintiffs declined to comment Wednesday.