The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) recently voted to approve an agreement that would let the state continue its Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Program (CAURD). And shortly after their approval, the agreement was approved by the New York State Supreme Court. The judge in the case also lifted an injuction that was preventing roughly 436 provisional CAURD licensees from being allowed to open storefronts. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) had been legally prevented from processing or issuing these licenses since August 7, when it was met with the legal challenge. Now those licensees will be able to proceed with their cannabis businesses in the New Year, pending final approval of their applications.
“We launched the CAURD program squarely focused on realizing the commitment made by the MRTA [Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act], that those most impacted by prohibition would have a meaningful opportunity to participate in New York’s cannabis market. Today, we are one step closer to resolving litigation brought forth by equity entrepreneurs and our medical operators who felt that they were being left behind. Now that we have opened up licensing to all equity entrepreneurs and provided a clear pathway to participation in the adult-use market for our medical operators, we are able to continue to move this program forward together,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.
According to the CCB, MRTA’s “social and economic rquity groups” include: individuals from a community disproportionately impacted, distressed farmers, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned businesses. If the assigned judge approves the terms of the settlement agreement, the injunction issued on August 7 will be lifted and those dispensaries currently in limbo will be allowed to operate.
On November 17, the CCB voted to adopt cannabinoid hemp products regulations, establish fees for licensed cannabis laboratories across New York, and to renew medical cannabis registrations.
“The regulations we approved today speak to the high standards we hold our licensees and operators to, and to our commitment of making sure the rules are clear, helpful, and grounded in the values imbued in the MRTA,” said Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board. “As we look ahead, I want to thank New Yorkers who continue to invest their dollars, and their trust, in New York State’s legal cannabis shops, and acknowledge the incredible sacrifice — and resilience — of CAURD licensees who continue to persevere. The road to this moment has not been easy, and the work continues. We will — and we must — continue to expand the opportunity for all to participate in this growing market.”
During the November 17 board meeting, OCM also shared total sales updates for the calendar year. New York’s 27 adult-use cannabis dispensaries and 54 Cannabis Growers Showcases have generated $112.1 million in sales in 2023.
Cannabinoid hemp rules
The CCB also voted to adopt regulations around cannabinoid hemp products. The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp products around the country, defining hemp as flower that is tested at below 0.3% THC. Since that federal change, some processors have started making cannabinoid hemp products, like edibles or drinks, with intoxicating effects. These regulations limit the total amount of THC in cannabinoid hemp products sold in New York by setting a cap for how much THC can be in each recommended serving.
The CCB first proposed these rules in July 2023. In addition to gathering public comment on the proposals, the office analyzed regulations used by eight states with THC limits imposed on cannabinoid hemp products, the available peer reviewed literature, and task force recommendations from three states, as well as numerous studies to determine an appropriate level of THC in cannabinoid hemp products. These rules will be effective upon publication in the state register.
New registrations and renewals
On October 31, the OCM opened the application window to add new medical cannabis operators, known as “registered organizations” (ROs) in New York State in an attempt to provide for more medical dispensaries to serve patients across the state. According to the CCB, the application “is centered on increasing patient access and serving the public’s interest. Applicants who are culturally and medically competent as well as connected to the communities they serve are encouraged to apply.”
This application seeks operators who have plans to open dispensaries in communities that lack any medical cannabis dispensaries, with an eye towards “geographic diversity.” The application is open until 5 p.m. on December 19, 2023, and can be found at the following website: cannabis.ny.gov/2023-registered-organization-application.
In addition, CCB voted to renew the licenses of nine existing ROs in New York State: Citiva Medical, LLC, Columbia Care NY, LLC, Curaleaf NY, LLC, Etain, LLC, Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, Inc, NYCANNA, LLC, PharmaCann of New York, LLC, Valley Agriceuticals, LLC, and Vireo Health of New York, LLC.
New York’s cannabis law stipulates that ROs must apply to the CCB to have their registration renewed every two years.
* This article has been updated to note that a state supreme court judge had agreed to the settlement terms and lifted the injunction against CAURD licenses.