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New York could see more legal weed shops after state settles cases that halted market

Published:Saturday | December 2, 2023 | 12:21 PM
Marijuana plants are seen at a growing facility in Washington County, New York, May 12, 2023. New York could soon start to get more recreational marijuana dispensaries after a judge on Friday, December 1, 2023, approved legal settlements to end lawsuits that halted the state’s legal cannabis licensing program. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York could soon start to get more recreational marijuana dispensaries after a judge on Friday approved legal settlements to end lawsuits that halted the state's legal cannabis licensing program.

The settlements lift a court order that has blocked the state from processing or issuing retail marijuana licenses since August.

State officials said the agreement will allow more than 400 potential retailers to move forward with pending applications to open storefronts.

“With this settlement behind us, hundreds of new licenses can now move forward, new stores will open, and consumers can legally buy safer, legal, tested cannabis products from New York-based entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

The state's legal market has been in shambles since sales began about a year ago.

Bureaucratic problems and lawsuits have allowed only about two dozen legal dispensaries to open, as farmers sit on a glut of crops and black market shops fill the void.

Last summer, State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant blocked the state from processing or issuing new permits after two lawsuits — one filed by a group of four military veterans and the other by a coalition that included large medical marijuana companies — challenged state rules that promised many of the first retail licenses to people with past drug convictions.

State cannabis regulators this week announced settlements in the cases, with Bryant formally approving the deals Friday.

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