Snuffed Out: Court Case Means No Pot licenses

After a federal court decision this week, Chautauqua County won’t be seeing state-run cannabis dispensaries anytime soon.

U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe denied a state request to drop an injunction against issuing dispensary licenses in five regions, including Western New York.

The injunction was placed in November after a lawsuit against the state was filed by a Michigan-based cannabis retailer, Variscite NY One. The company alleges that rules aimed at keeping out-of-state retailers away from New York are discriminatory, and thus violate federal law.

According to Sharpe’s ruling, the state’s “arguments regarding irreparable harm to them, the relative lack of harm Variscite faces, and the public interest are equally unpersuasive.”

In other regions of the state unaffected by Variscite’s lawsuit, such as the New York City area, a few dispensaries have already opened or are very close to opening.

However, until Variscite’s lawsuit is resolved, Sharpe’s ruling means the state can’t issue licenses in the five regions cited in the suit.

Meanwhile, just 15 miles from Dunkirk, unlicensed cannabis dispensaries continue to do big business on the Seneca Nation of Indians. By state officials’ own admission, the nation is not subject to New York’s cannabis legalization laws.

There are now at least five dispensaries near the traffic circle that’s just past the Routes 5 and 20 bridge over Cattaraugus Creek from Chautauqua County.


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