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Lawsuit Filed Against New York State Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management for Alleged Unconstitutional Overreach

A group of service-disabled veterans has filed a lawsuit against the New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), alleging that these entities have overstepped their legislative boundaries. The plaintiffs, Carmine Fiore, William Norgard, Steve Mejia, and Dominic Spaccio, argue that the defendants have violated New York’s separation of powers doctrine by creating a new licensing category called the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license.

The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany, states that the defendants have limited eligibility for the CAURD license to only “justice involved individuals” who own a profitable “qualifying business.” The plaintiffs argue that this decision contravenes the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was signed into law on March 31, 2021, by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo. The MRTA legalized cannabis for adults over the age of twenty-one and established the OCM as an independent agency within the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The plaintiffs, who qualify as service-disabled veterans under Article 17-B of the New York Executive Law, claim that they have been prevented from applying for an adult-use license due to the defendants’ actions. They are seeking an order to declare the CAURD license as an ultra vires and unconstitutional licensing category that violates the MRTA and contravenes New York’s separation of powers doctrine. They are also seeking an injunction to prevent the defendants from awarding or further processing any more CAURD licenses and/or from authorizing any more CAURD licensees to open adult-use retail dispensaries.

The lawsuit is currently pending in court.

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