NEW YORK -- A New York judge has blocked retail marijuana licensing in a blow to the marketplace.
The shelves are up but empty at Hush, a hopeful dispensary in the Bronx.
"You did great, licensing next week and -- injunction, no more license," dispensary applicant Levent Ozkurt said.
Ozkurt was approved for a dispensary license earlier this month, but it was quickly put on hold because of a lawsuit against the state by four United States veterans. Among them is Carmine Fiore, who spoke with CBS New York last week.
"I feel like veterans were used to get a law passed, and a good law, one that helps many citizens and the state as well. But once that law was passed, I feel like we were cast aside for a separate agenda," he said at the time.
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When the state legalized pot, its goal was to grant half the licenses to communities with high marijuana arrest rates, minority- and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers and veterans disabled while in service.
This lawsuit claims the state illegally passed over veterans for retail licenses.
Friday, a judge granted an injunction that blocks New York from issuing new licenses while this case plays out.
"It's another blow to what was already kind of a bumpy rollout to begin with," said Cannabis Association of New York Board Member Damien Cornwell.
Jorge Vasquez represents licensees in the lawsuit.
"If ... you haven't heard back from the Office of Cannabis Management and you were hoping to get issued a license at the next September meeting, the court said that we're not issuing new licenses," he said.
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The ruling exempts applicants who met all the state requirements before Aug. 7.
The court can also issue individual exemptions to qualifying applicants.
"If you meet certain criteria, you have the possibility of continuing," Vasquez said.
That's good for Ozkurt, who made the cut-off.
"We're excited now," he said.
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In a statement, a representative for the veterans said in part Friday, "Our fight has always been for equal access to this new and growing industry." They add, "We look forward to working with the state and the court to open the program to all eligible applicants."
License applications open to the general public in October.
The state Office of Cannabis Management sent CBS New York the following statement Saturday:
"The Office of Cannabis Management's mission is to establish a first-of-its-kind adult use cannabis market that works to right the wrongs of the past, and we are proud of the work we've done to achieve that goal. We are reviewing the recent Court decision and will be in touch with all licensees to discuss the path forward but we will absolutely apply to the Court for exemptions from the injunction on behalf of provisional licensees who are ready to open as we work to provide access to safer, tested cannabis products. While today's ruling is a disappointment, we are committed to working with the Cannabis Control Board to find a way forward that does not derail our efforts to bring the most equitable cannabis market in the nation to life."
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