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Judge decides pause on NYS cannabis shops will remain

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There’s been another freeze on the recreational cannabis industry in New York State. A judge reversing his ruling from Friday that would’ve allowed more than two dozen licensees to continue the process of opening up shop, despite an injunction that has the program on pause.

State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant has decided the freeze on New York State’s retail cannabis program will remain in place for all, while the lawsuit by veterans alleging they were cast aside by regulators during the license awarding process continues to play out.

“I think the overall sentiment that’s been going on through New York State cannabis is frustration at this point,” said Ryan McCall, attorney at Tully Rinckey PLLC, “and this is just another setback.”

This setback comes after 30 licensees thought there were signs of progress Friday when judge Bryant ruled the injunction would be lifted for them. The attorneys for the veterans who filed the lawsuit objected, arguing not all 30 applicants have met all the licensing requirements. The court gave the Office of Cannabis Management a chance to respond, and the judge was not satisfied, writing that OCM’s First Deputy Director did “not provide the clarity that is necessary for this court to determine whether-or-not a particular licensee should be exempt.”

“He had effectively seen that, no, in fact all of these licensees had not substantially complied with or were all that close to opening. So at that time he said, why is this being effectively represented to me in this manner? And he reversed his original ruling saying, now, everybody’s frozen,” McCall explained.

Judge Bryant also directed OCM to re-submit its list of licensees who meet the requirements, so the court can address each on a case-by-case basis.

This ruling is impacting two brothers trying to open their retail cannabis shop in Amsterdam. Anthony and Thomas Marcellino’s process was paused by the injunction, but say they were told by OCM that they would be on the list of 30 licensees being allowed to move forward. They say with a lot on the line, and their life savings poured into this venture, they were hopeful about taking the next steps before this latest freeze.

“We started to proceed. I signed contracts for different services that the business would need, and then a day later was informed that OCM was going to wait to proceed until the order from the court came down. When the order came down a day or two later, it was not favorable for us or OCM,” Anthony, the Owner and Chief Operator at Amsterdam Cannabis said, “so we’re back in this limbo area where we don’t know what to do or what’s going to happen going forward.”

Marcellino said he’s now focused on informing OCM about how far along in the process he is with his business, and what he’s spent so far, in hopes this will be resolved soon and he can continue working toward opening.

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