Locals Business Owners Shouldn’t Pay For State’s Mistakes On Dispensaries

Regardless of one’s feeling about the legal use and sale of marijuana, we should all be able to agree that the state’s inability to craft decent legislation, rules and regulations for its nascent marijuana industry could hurt local businesses.

Last week, U.S. District Court 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.

Good grief. The delay is bad enough — especially since the state’s ongoing delay have allowed the Seneca Nation of Indians to get a jump on any off-reservation marijuana dispensaries the state eventually chooses to license. 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.

In a business that has been built up to be a cash cow, did the state really think there wouldn’t be a challenge to its policies keeping out-of-state retailers out of the industry? The state didn’t have to be so blatantly exclusionary, by the way. Since it controls the licenses, the legal language could have been bland and the state could simply have not given licenses to out-of-state businesses. But, by virtue signaling so clearly in its legislation and policy, the state practically wrote the lawsuit for Variscite NY One.

There are a few entrepreneurs in the Jamestown area who are counting on state licenses to come through so their initial investment can begin to pay off. New York state owes it to those entrepreneurs — some of them your friends or neighbors — to remedy this situation quickly so the local business owners can open their businesses. Fighting this out in court is an unnecessary delay for people who have already waited so long for the state to get this market up and running.

New York screwed up. It’s up to New York to rectify its mistake. Quickly.


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