ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — On Monday, The Office of Cannabis Management is scheduled to issue their first round of approved retail dispensary applications. This comes amid an ongoing legal battle that’s put a pause on approved licenses in some regions of New York. 

Those first round of applicants include the social justice requirement which is two fold: they or a close family member must have a marijuana related offense and they must have some experience owning and operating a business in New York. 

A Michigan company filed a lawsuit after its application was denied because the applicant had a Michigan based marijuana conviction and had “no significant connection to New York.” They claim under the dormant commerce clause the state’s application process prevents interstate commerce; a federal judge has recently blocked five regions in New York from issuing cannabis licenses. It’s unclear how this will affect applicants who are supposed to get approved next week. 

“We are starting up a whole new industry that we’ve never had before and it’s one that could be incredibly lucrative not just for the individuals involved but for the communities where this takes place,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. Shimkus says the state’s Dormitory Authority is charged with finding locations where property owners would lease their space to New York for dispensary use. “The way New York is going about this is different than any other state and so any time that happens and there’s any confusion it lends itself to lawsuits and I think that’s what we’re seeing here in New York State,” he said.

Juliana Whitney is President of The Cann Strategy, she says many states introducing cannabis dispensaries have faced litigation, but OCM may have a fair shot of winning the lawsuit. Why? Because The social justice requirement is only for the first round of applicants, “But for future applications, that’s not in there, so you don’t need that for future applications, which means for most licenses they’re not requiring that which is why they might be able to say ‘we’re not keeping inter state commerce out because we only said that for these specialized licenses,'” said Whitney.  

The Office of Cannabis Management cannot comment on matters involving litigation. They are set to have their next meeting, November 21.