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Finger Lakes Region left out of court’s cannabis ruling: What’s next?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A federal appeals court has lifted an ongoing injunction placed on five New York regions, except the Finger Lakes, when it comes to the eligibility of selling cannabis legally.

The restrictions were put in place after a Michigan business owner filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination.

Because the Finger Lakes region was identified as ‘first choice’ out of the five included areas of the state, it was left out. As a result, local business hopefuls are kept in the dark and are waiting for a reversal.

Over the last six months or so, News 8 has been following the journey of Britni and Jayson Tantalo, who are co-founders of Flower City Hydroponics in Fairport.

The couple’s application for a CAURD license, or Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license, was processed by the state shortly after that.

Since then, an injunction was placed on five regions in the state, including the Finger Lakes. As of late Tuesday, the injunction still stands for our area.

“I personally feel like I cannot believe this is happening to us. As much work as we’ve put in, allocating resources for others to be successful, and as much as we’re doing for our community, how could the judge possibly not recognize the whole situation?” said Tantalo.

As business owners like him look toward possible solutions, those on the legal side say right now, odds of a change are 50/50.

A trial is tentatively scheduled one year from now, however prospective cannabis sellers are hopeful for a resolution before then.

“We’re talking about going out another year. And if that happens, you’re talking about places that could have really opened yesterday in a lot of ways, had this whole lawsuit not happened and had they issued licenses. What I think you’re going to see is some compromise reached prior to trial, but if it’s not, unfortunately it appears the Finger Lakes region may be left out in the cold,” said Ryan McCall, cannabis law attorney with Tully Rinckey PLLC.

As it stands, Tantalo says he has no choice but to move forward.

“It’s a double-edged sword. It will give us a little more opportunity to plan and build, but it’s been a long road,” said Tantalo, “It’s daunting, draining, and it gets exhausting. We’re not going to give up on our community.”

News 8 reached out to the state office of cannabis management, or OCM, on this ruling Wednesday. A spokesperson deferred us to a previous statement made by the governor, who commended the court’s decision for nearly all New Yorkers, and “creating the fairest and safest market in the nation.”

The OCM’s next board meeting is scheduled for Monday.

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