BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thirty applicants got the go-ahead Wednesday from the New York Cannabis Control Board, which approved each for a new conditional adult-use retail dispensary, or CAURD, license.
The new licenses bring the state's total to 66 CAURD recipients after the board announced its first 36 approved applicants back in November.
CAURD applicants are required to have a prior marijuana conviction or a family member who was affected by the war on drugs to qualify. They're defined as justice-involved individuals by to New York Office of Cannabis Management.
On Tuesday, Roland Connor became the state's first individual with a prior conviction to open a legal cannabis store; a pop-up dispensary called "Smacked" in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Connor was approved for his CAURD license two months earlier.
"Smacked" is the second dispensary to open in New York and joins Housing Works Cannabis Co., which was the first and opened just before the New Year. It is also located in Manhattan.
So what about CAURD applicants in Western New York?
A federal lawsuit has and continues to prevent licensing in our region and in four others, the Fingers Lakes, Central New York, Brooklyn, and the Mid-Hudson.
The plaintiff claims the application process approved by the Office of Cannabis Management or OCM was unconstitutional and that their application was rejected because one of their principal applicant partners was convicted of a marijuana-related crime outside of New York State.
While there is no telling when the lawsuit could be resolved, Cannabis Control Board Member Adam Perry sought to answer some lingering questions about applications filed in the five affected regions.
"The Office has reviewed the applications and scored them but we can't actually give them out until the legal issue is resolved," Perry said during Wednesday's Cannabis Control Board Meeting.
The New York Attorney General's Office has filed a motion to alter a preliminary injunction issued by a judge in the Northern District which is what's legally restricting licensing in Western New York for the time being.
Perry added that OCM, "is not just sitting still waiting for the court case to be resolved" and is evaluating and moving ahead with finding retail space for future approved applicants in the regions impacted by the injunction.
"We do continue to look for locations in the injunction zone areas obviously taking the slower approach there. We'll be ready to sign leases in those places as well," Cannabis Control Board member Reuben McDaniel said.
McDaniel is also the President and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of New York State or DASNY, which is responsible for finding and securing space where CAURD applicants with operate.
The next several 'soft openings' of retail cannabis locations will happen over the next 45 days McDaniel added. With one in Queens, another in Albany, a third shop he said is coming to Manhattan as well as the closest store to Western New York so far, Ithaca.
While it is located in the injunction area, the Ithaca shop falls outside the judge's ruling because it will be run by a non-profit an OCM spokesperson confirmed to 2 On Your Side.