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Due to legal challenge, recreational marijuana sales in Brooklyn, Westchester and elsewhere hit snag

Due to legal challenge, recreational pot sales in Brooklyn, Westchester hit snag
Due to legal challenge, recreational pot sales in Brooklyn, Westchester hit snag 02:00

NEW YORK -- As the state prepares for recreational pot sales, it drew up licensing rules that favor in-state applicants.

But now a judge says that may be unconstitutional.

An expert broke down the legal issues with CBS2's Tony Aiello on Monday.

To promote social justice, New York is reserving 150 marijuana dispensary licenses for people negatively impacted by previous prohibitions on pot. Such as some entrepreneurs in the Bronx that CBS2 profiled in August, led by Coss Marte.

"I was 13 when I was incarcerated for marijuana. To see that today I'm going to possibly open a dispensary where I'll be selling weed legally, it's just, I would never imagine this," CONBUD founder Coss Marte said.

But now a federal judge is putting up a road block.

"I think that the program is vulnerable," lawyer Lauren Rudick said.

Rudick advises clients applying through New York's CAURD program -- Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensaries.

CAURD guidelines require applicants to have a pot-related conviction under New York law and "a significant presence in New York state."

In a ruling, Federal Judge Gary Sharpe said that may violate the U.S. Constitution.

"The New York CAURD program does require applicants to have very significant ties to New York, so they found it to be protectionist and exclusionary to out-of-state residents for this program," Rudick said.

READ MORENYS Office of Cannabis Management tours pot farms on East End of Long Island

The law was challenged by a man convicted of a pot crime in Michigan. The judge told New York until the challenge is settled it cannot issue licenses in Brooklyn, Westchester, and other counties where the Michigan man applied for one.

"What we do know is this creates a precedent for other folks to come along and claim a similar constitutional violation. So we'll be watching that," Rudick said.

It's not clear how this challenge will impact the state's goal of having recreational pot stores open before the year is out.

The judge said state lawyers had "no cogent response" when asked to defend certain aspects of the licensing program. The state Office of Cannabis Management would not comment on pending litigation.

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