NY Cannabis Insider NYC Event Panelists Discuss CAURD’s Concerns and Hopes

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At a sold-out NY Cannabis Insider event in New York City on Tuesday evening, a panel of stakeholders discussed the positive, negative and lingering issues regarding the state’s conditional retail dispensary licenses for which the process of application opened yesterday.

The audience of approximately 120 at Draft 55 in Midtown East Manhattan listened to panelists dive deep into the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program, discuss eligibility, logistical challenges for applicants, and ideas on how New York regulators could improve the program.

“It’s like a growth spurt and we’re in a really awkward, spotty teenage phase right now as an industry in New York,” said Ngiste Abebe, president of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association – the sponsor main event.

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“Even though there are good intentions and a good framework, we all need to keep pushing to hold these government and political officials accountable to ensure that the dreams that have been codified in the MRTA can come true,” he said. she declared.

In addition to Abebe, the panel included Kristin Jordan, attorney and CEO of Park Jordan, a commercial real estate brokerage firm serving the cannabis industry; Jon Purow, a cannabis attorney in the New York office of law firm Zuber Lawler – one of the event’s sponsors; and Jeremy Rivera, who is applying for a CAURD license.

Cannaspire, a cannabis consultancy providing products and services to entrepreneurs, was also a supporting sponsor of Tuesday night’s event.

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At the top of the panel, participants described the social justice goals of CAURD and MRTA as important, and recognized that the Office of Cannabis Management was undertaking an extremely complicated task in a way that no state had. tried before.

“I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” Jordan said. “No other state in the country – none – has done what we propose to do; it is a monumental task.

However, all of the panelists shared their concerns about possible trouble on the horizon, with some identifying the potential for lawsuits as a major setback.

Ngiste Abebe, president of the NY Medical Cannabis Industry Association, speaks at the NY Cannabis Insider on August 23, 2022.

Purow said he’s almost certain people will sue the state because aspects of the CAURD program appear to violate the language of the MRTA, which legalized weed in New York last year. He pointed to a section of the MRTA which states that the license application period for retail sites must open for everyone at the same time, and that the CAURD program conflicts with this as it will award licenses retail to a small segment of eligible people, while other applicants must wait.

“There is an argument that the whole conditional retail program violates MRTA plain language,” Purow said. “It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s ‘when'” people will sue, he said.

For context, Purow said a dozen people sued the state of Connecticut within a week of issuing its first marijuana business licenses.

Beyond that issue, Abebe said she’s nervous about how the state will score candidates and what litigation might arise from that process. The Illinois Adult Use Marketplace has been held up in court for about two years because Social Equity and other applicants claimed state regulators improperly scored applicants and disallowed licenses based on this score.

“Scoring is the wild card: as soon as you have a scoring process, you are guaranteed litigation,” Abebe said. “Because no matter how well trained your application evaluation team is, at some point they will have to make subjective calls, and sometimes people make the wrong ones.”

NYCI Panel August 23, 2022

Cannabis entrepreneurs and professionals mingled with NYC Draft 55 for the NY Cannabis Insider Meetup on August 23, 2022.

For Jordan, real estate for cannabis business license applicants is becoming one of the biggest issues for budding aspiring entrepreneurs in New York. There are still many unanswered questions about where regulators and municipalities will allow different licensees to locate their businesses, but some real estate companies are encouraging applicants to lock down a property as soon as possible, Jordan said.

“I don’t know how these real estate brokers are securing real estate on behalf of these clients without having these answers,” Jordan said.

Rivera, a CAURD candidate who served time in prison for a cannabis-related offense — before becoming a construction consultant and safety instructor — said he believes providing the public with as much licensing information as possible was an important task for the CMO. Especially among CAURD applicants and others harmed by the marijuana ban – people who don’t have the resources or know-how of the big players might end up listening to bad information from the wrong people.

“In the cannabis industry – as we all know – there are a lot of sharks; people who want to take advantage of people who may not know what information is available,” Rivera said.

The next NY Cannabis Insider Conference will take place on September 23 at The Rail Line in Syracuse. A limited number of tickets are available here.

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