Over the last year the state of New York has experienced numerous issues in regards to the distribution of licenses to individuals wishing to open cannabis businesses in the state. The state legalized marijuana back in March of 2021 and the first dispensary opened in December of 2022 but since then the legal cannabis business in New York has come to a grinding halt.

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Held Up in the Courts

The main point of contingency when it came to the issues New York state has encountered with issuing cannabis licenses, actually stemmed from the licensing program itself. That program was called the CAURD program or Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licensing Program. 

Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash
Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

According to Forbes, the CAURD program...

prioritizes individuals with prior convictions related to marijuana offenses and those directly impacted by the war on drugs...

Essentially those who got caught selling marijuana illegally before would get first dibs to sell legally now provided they could meet the rest of the requirements for opening a business. This preference angered many including a group of service-disabled veterans who filed multiple lawsuits in August 2023 alleging that the preferential treatment "illegally barred" them from applying for licenses themselves.

An Image of a lawsuit
Ulf Wittrock

These lawsuits followed lawsuits filed by the veterans group followed lawsuits that were filed by multiple "medical cannabis companies" that were also alleging they could apply for licenses. The legal complications caused numerous unlicensed cannabis businesses to open across the state. These businesses flourished and the state could not manage to crack down on them.

Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash
Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

It's been estimated that over the next several years, the unlicensed business may cost NYS up to $2.6 billion in lost tax revenue. The lawsuits in question though look like they have reached there collective end following an announcement from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.

Lawsuit Settlements and Licenses on the Horizon

The recent announcement from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management came following a meeting by the New York's Cannabis Control Board where it was announced that settlements had been agreed upon to end the ongoing lawsuits.

Businessmen shaking hands after meeting in a cafe
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The settlement reportedly was unanimously agreed upon and now it is up to the parties involved in the lawsuits to to submit the settlement to the New York State Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. Once submitted and approved by a judge, the proverbial damn regarding cannabis licenses in the state is expected to burst.


Early estimates according to Forbes are that once the settlements are approved, over 400 new licenses which had been held up in the legal proceedings would get the green light and allow for license holders to officially open up shop.

The opening of legal cannabis businesses is huge for NYS as currently only 27 legal dispensaries are open across the state, which is far from the goal that was set a year ago to have 150 open legal dispensaries.

Original Coverage of Cannabis Lawsuits: New Lawsuit Halts Opening of New Cannabis Businesses in New York 

Marijuana Cultivation Center In Nevada Ramps Up Production As State Legalizes Recreation Use Of Weed
Getty Images

The opening of more cannabis businesses in NYS is also expected to help the state alleviate its stockpiling issue. According to the New York Times, the state has been holding onto roughly 600,000 pounds of marijuana due to the inability of stores to open. According to Cannabis Benchmarks, a pound of weed is valued at between $1500 and $3000; following those numbers, NYS is sitting on between $900,000,000 and $1.8 billion dollars.


Barring any unforeseen circumstances like a new lawsuit, it appears that this legal cannabis nightmare could finally be coming to an end in New York State.

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