US (NY): Court ruling boosts minority-owned medical cannabis license application

Although New York's new cannabis regulators have said they support the increasingly strong push to diversify and expand the state's medical cannabis program, they have yet to specify when and how that change will occur. But a recent court decision could force their hand.

The ruling by a midlevel appeals court requires officials to reevaluate the 2015 medical cannabis license application submitted by Hudson Health Extracts. The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court found irregularities in the selection process, saying the state health department's assessment of the company's financial standing "must be annulled" and re-scored, which could result in the company getting a license.

The company is hoping the court's decision will allow them to open a cultivation center and a medical dispensary in Mount Vernon, a predominantly Black city in Westchester County. Currently, the state's 38 medical dispensaries are not spread evenly across the state, and advocates say there are not enough to provide access to many of the most in-need patients.

The New York medical cannabis industry is dominated by corporations with cannabis stakes in multiple states. While the state's legalization process is still being established, the national industry dates to the late 1990s and is now ripe for mergers and acquisitions, including a recent $2 billion dollar consolidation of two of the companies with licenses to operate in New York. 

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