New York judge voids state cannabis marketing rules News
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New York judge voids state cannabis marketing rules

New York Supreme Court Judge Kevin Bryant invalidated Thursday the state’s laws regulating the marketing of recreational cannabis, clarifying a ruling that appeared to strike down all cannabis regulations as unconstitutionally vague.

Judge Bryant criticized the regulatory process and chastised the New York State Office of Cannabis Management for failing to show that the regulations were “rationally supported” by facts and data. “Here there is no indication that any evidence was actually placed before the administrative agency and there is no outline of the process that the agency followed when deliberating regarding the proposed regulations.” The judge further explained that without a rational basis for the conclusions made by the agency, the regulations were “arbitrary and capricious.”

The plaintiffs in the case, Leafly Holdings, were challenging a ban on third-party advertisers and marketers that affected services like Weedmaps and Leafly, Yelp-like services that use app technology to inform and connect recreational cannabis users to dispensaries. The services include ratings and reviews that are crowd-sourced from users while also allowing a platform for dispensaries to buy advertising space for their businesses.

Leafly argued that the regulations made it “more difficult for [consumers] to obtain information about legal dispensaries and [to] make informed purchasing decisions.” The agency argued that the regulations embodied “legitimate government interests” to support small businesses and “promote social and economic equity,” including the general welfare of the state of New York.

Ultimately, Judge Bryant sided with Leafly, striking down the third-party marketing ban but not before causing substantial confusion with an opinion that seemingly struck down the entire regulatory scheme for recreational cannabis on the grounds of vagueness. Judge Bryant amended the opinion after an outcry to apply strictly to third-party marketing.

The state of New York legalized recreational marijuana only three years ago, but the rollout has drawn criticism from many for numerous delays and poor management. Other states that have recently legalized cannabis include New Mexico, Maryland and Missouri. The US House of Representatives passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana just two years ago before the bill stalled in the Senate.