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State sets date for 1st legal marijuana sale, files motion to get CAURD licensing in WNY rolling

"We are really excited to take this next step," Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's Office of Cannabis Management has set a date for when the first legal sale of adult-use marijuana will take place, just within their end-of-year deadline.

During a meeting of the state's cannabis control board Wednesday, Executive Director Chris Alexander said the sale will take place at a CAURD (conditional adult-use retail) dispensary located at 750 Broadway in Manhattan, run by the non-profit Housing Works.

"We are really excited to take this next step," Alexander said.

He recalled the months of work that will have gone into making the sale happen, which started with the planting of seeds nine months ago.

"With family farmers across New York growing the first crop of adult-use cannabis and justice-involved individuals leading the way on the retail side," he said. 

Individuals applying for a conditional cannabis license have so far been limited to those impacted by a previous cannabis-related offense. This CAURD program as of December 16 has issued 11 licenses according to records posted on the Office of Cannabis Management website.

The potential guidelines for everyone else looking to apply were posted for their 60-day public comment period on December 14. OCM has encouraged New Yorkers to review the guidelines, offer suggestions and ask questions by emailing them at regulations@ocm.ny.gov.

The comment period will close on February 13 with general licensing expected to start in the third quarter of 2023 according to a spokesperson for the office.

"Really encouraging folks to take the step and go on to the OCM website and submit some comments on those regulations. The only way to do this right is to make sure we're hearing from the public so please review them and share your thoughts," Alexander said.

While the first sale is happening a long way from Western New York, a lawsuit filed in November and a preliminary injunction issued by a judge in the Northern District of New York has restricted the state's ability to issue CAURD licenses in certain regions. They include Brooklyn, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Mid-Hudson, and Western New York.

On Tuesday, however, the state filed a motion trying to limit where the judge said licenses could not be given out citing new information they say was not available before their last court appearance: that the plaintiff's first choice to open a dispensary was in the Finger Lakes region.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Variscite New York One claims their application was rejected because one of their principal applicant partners was convicted of a marijuana-related crime outside of New York State.

The state is arguing that the judge's preliminary injunction was too broad and that now knowing the Finger Lakes region which was the first choice for the Plaintiff the injunction should be limited to allow Brooklyn, Central New York, the Mid-Hudson, and Western New York to receive CAURD licenses and open dispensaries.

The state also argues the current widespread restriction could unfairly hurt growers and processors who have cannabis waiting to be sold.

The judge has not responded to the motion as of the posting of this story.

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