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April marks an important time for the cannabis community, culminating with the celebration of 4/20 (or in some cases, extending those celebrations all month long). We have special cause to celebrate this year as good news abounds for the Northeast cannabis industry. From New York ramping up dispensary licensing to the dropping of cannabis convictions in Connecticut, the region is moving full steam ahead with legalization and standing up a healthy regulated market. Let’s take a closer look at what’s been happening in the Northeast region this month.
Federal court lifts dispensary injunction in NY, expanding retail
A federal appeals court has lifted part of an injunction that prevented cannabis regulators from issuing licenses for recreational dispensaries in some parts of New York. Previously, The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) was barred from issuing licenses in Brooklyn and four other regions in the state due to a lawsuit claiming that the eligibility criteria favored New York residents over out-of-state residents.
“New York will not reach its goals for an equitable and thriving adult-use cannabis marketplace until all regions are open for business,” State Senator Jeremy Cooney said in a statement.
The lifting of the ban on March 28th removes major obstacles for New York business owners by allowing regulators to issue 108 dispensary licenses in regions no longer under the injunction: Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and Brooklyn. With the ban lifted, The OCM gave 53 conditional adult use retail dispensary (CAURD) applications across the Five Boroughs the green light to receive their licenses and officially open up shop. Licensees included CONBUD LLC in Manhattan as well as Buds “R” Us LLC in Queens, and Evija Artworks Inc.
Connecticut prosecutors drop over 1,500 cannabis cases amid legalization
Connecticut prosecutors have officially dismissed more than 1,500 pending cannabis convictions and modified about 600 others. A report sent to members of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee from the Chief State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin involved individualized examinations of 4,248 cases involving controlled substances. Prosecutors were tasked with identifying and clearing convictions for activities made legal under the cannabis bill signed into law last year.
This news comes shortly after lawmakers drafted a bill ordering the Division of Criminal Justice to ease the prosecution of any cannabis-only cases as a part of the following up to the full legalization that came in June 2021.
“It has been the shared position of this committee and the division that persons charged with a possession of a cannabis-type substance offense that has subsequently been decriminalized should not be prosecuted for that offense,” Griffin noted to CT Post. “Thus, identifying these cannabis cases could not be accomplished merely by conducting a computerized review of pending cases. The 4,248 cases statewide, including 2,139 pending and 2,109 in re-arrest status. This was no small task and quite labor intensive.”
New York unveils new cannabis committee on 4/20
The New York Senate has officially announced a committee dedicated exclusively to cannabis. According to a press release published on 4/20, the committee will “provide an outlet for entrepreneurs, advocates, industry and citizens with an interest in the new marketplace.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) named Sen. Jeremy Cooney the chair of the Senate Cannabis Subcommittee.
“I am pleased to see the adult-use recreational cannabis market begin to come online in New York, but there is much more to be done,” Cooney said in a statement. “From the beginning, the state legislature committed to doing the hard work of building the most equitable cannabis marketplace in the nation. I fully believe we can meet that goal.”
Just ahead of 4/20, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) also announced that the state is launching a public education campaign encouraging adults to buy cannabis from licensed shops. Coinciding with the “Why Buy Legal New York” campaign, the effort is meant to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers by providing them with the information they need to make informed decisions about their cannabis purchases. The campaign will also ensure revenue is used to advance equity and reinvestment goals.
Staying up-to-date with CWCBExpo
As the industry progresses, we can expect many more exciting developments on the East Coast and beyond. It’s essential that any cannabis business owner or professional stays on top of the most recent news and the nuances of each market in which they operate.
In addition to CWCBExpo’s annual business-to-business conferences, our monthly news round-ups are a great and convenient way to stay in the loop on all local news and events on the East Coast. Subscribe to our email newsletter or follow us on social media to stay plugged into the information that matters to you and your business.