BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A New York State Supreme Court judge issued an order Monday, temporarily blocking the Office of Cannabis Management’s efforts to distribute and process cannabis dispensary licenses.

The injunction was granted after a group of veterans filed a lawsuit claiming the Conditional Adult Use Cannabis Retail dispensary application program violates the 2019 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which says the state must implement an equity plan.

They claim the OCM is violating New York’s marijuana regulation and taxation act, in part because they’re not issuing licenses to disabled veterans. Right now, people who have prior cannabis convictions are getting priority.

“Individuals like service-disabled veterans, who are also social equity applicants, who should be prioritized under the MRTA — the marijuana regulation taxation act — the plaintiffs are arguing that they’ve been harmed by being left out of this first mover’s advantage,” said Fatima Afia, Attorney at Rudick Law Group.

The veterans also say the OCM makes policy that should be left to state lawmakers.

The injunction granted Monday prevents the OCM from granting new conditional adult-use recreational dispensary licenses, or processing existing ones, until instructed otherwise by the court.

A hearing on the injunction is set for Friday. Patrick Hines, a partner and specialist in cannabis law at Hodgson Russ, told News 4 that the injunction won’t affect any business owners who are currently open and operating.

“The question is what about licensees who have been granted their provisional license, but they’re still in the process of providing additional information to the OCM before they actually get their sticker to open up and operate?” Hines said. “Will they be held up, and what about any additional applicants that OCM was going to consider?”

OCM spokesperson Trivette Knowles told News 4 in a statement that the office is communicating with applicants and people who were granted provisional licenses about how the injunction impacts them.

Read the court order

State Senator Jeremy Cooney, the chair of the New York State Senate Subcommittee on Cannabis, released a statement Monday evening saying:

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s court decision, which temporarily stops the awarding of conditional cannabis retail licenses in New York State.

It is no secret that New York’s adult-use cannabis roll-out has been slower than expected, and now is not the time to stand in the way of progress made. We must focus on awarding non-conditional licenses, which will prioritize social equity candidates and allow more businesses to open.”

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Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.