New York Gets High: Federal Court Clears the Way for Recreational Dispensaries, But Finger Lakes Still Feeling Low

In a landmark decision, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has cleared the way for the opening of recreational cannabis dispensaries in parts of New York that were previously off-limits. This is a major victory for the state’s rollout of adult-use cannabis products, and it’s sure to make weed aficionados jump for joy.

The court’s decision removes an injunction that was preventing regulators from issuing licenses for dispensaries in Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and Brooklyn. However, 18 licenses in the Finger Lakes region are still tied up in a lawsuit. This means that while some people will be able to get their hands on legal pot, others will have to wait a little longer.

The ruling has been hailed as a game-changer for farmers and manufacturers, who have been sitting on a massive stockpile of weed. With more dispensaries opening up, they’ll finally have more places to sell their wares. But as with most things in life, getting from licensing to opening is a process that takes time.

Despite the slow progress, Governor Kathy Hochul is pleased with the decision. She said in a statement, “For the first time, New Yorkers in nearly every region of the state will have access to safer, high-quality, adult-use cannabis products.” It’s hard not to get excited about that.

The case was brought by a cannabis company called Variscite NY One, whose owner, Kenneth Gay, claimed that New York’s eligibility criteria violated the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. The clause prohibits states from discriminating against interstate commerce to show favor to their own residents. Variscite had hoped to win a license, but the state’s strict rules meant that they were out of luck.

Despite the setback, Variscite is not giving up. They have filed a similar lawsuit against Los Angeles, and it remains to be seen whether they will succeed there.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers are gearing up for the opening of more dispensaries. Alex Norman, who applied for a license in Brooklyn, said that he was “trying to contain [his] excitement” when he learned about the court’s decision. And while some areas are still under injunction, it’s clear that the cannabis revolution is well underway in New York.