Ask me anything about NY cannabis with Jeffrey Hoffman: Understanding the CAURD lawsuit.


Join NY Cannabis Insider for our next full-day conference on Sept. 21 at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery in Buffalo. Tickets will sell out.

Jeffrey Hoffman is a New York City-based attorney who hosts “Ask Me Anything about Cannabis Legalization in New York” each week on LinkedIn. Hoffman and NY Cannabis Insider have partnered to bring those sessions into print in a Q&A format.

Hoffman’s practice focuses on cannabis industry clients, including licensees in the adult-use market, practitioners in the medical cannabis space, and cannabis-adjacent product and service providers.

He has a particular interest in social and economic equity cannabis license applicants, and he also informs and assists those convicted of cannabis offenses in getting such convictions expunged from their record. He can be reached at [email protected].

The following AMA from August 16 has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the status with the CAURDs given the veterans’ and ROs’ lawsuits?

We may be in for the long haul here if the cases don’t get settled. Remember that the Variscite case was settled – we never got a decision on the merits. It appears there were some settlement discussions in these new cases but no dice. So, eventually, we go to trial. In the near term, it seems to me there are three buckets of folks in CAURD-land.

The first is the group which is already open. It doesn’t appear that the injunction will impact them, at least not yet. The second group is the preliminary licensees who did not have clearance from OCM to open before the lawsuit was filed. This group is a wide continuum from folks almost ready to open, like my boys Jeremy and Joe up on Ditmars or Sohan out in Jamaica, to folks that haven’t done much towards opening. The judge is going to allow some of those stores to open in the very near term, while the rest will need to work with OCM on a case-by-case basis to attempt to get an exception from the judge. The third group is those that are still applicants. Their position is the most precarious, and at this time it is not clear what will happen with them. I wish CCB/OCM had just given them all licenses at the last board meeting.

What happens if they try to take away the CAURD licenses?

Irreparable harm. No bueno my friend. No bueno.

It was hard to follow what happened in the CAURD hearing – how can we understand what was happening there?

In general, I don’t think we in the legal profession do a good job of helping the public understand what we do. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Really pay attention to what the judge asks. Remember that the attorneys have filed pages upon pages of briefs with him, so whatever he chooses to take from those briefs and ask in open court REALLY matters. And the most important question he asked was to the state: are there distance requirements between these dispensary locations?

So what does that tell you? Real estate, and the availability of it, is really important in this matter. And what is special about real estate in a legal sense? It’s one of the few places where our system likes specific performance. And as a general rule, whomever gets asked more questions by the judge is losing. If you did a really good job in your presentation, addressed the law, addressed the facts, addressed how the facts aren’t matching the law, and addressed how you want the judge to make the facts look like the law, then there really isn’t that much for the judge to ask you. But if you didn’t, oh boy. You’re getting peppered with questions.

How was the NY Cannabis Insider event?

It was awesome. They had it at a really great space on the east side of Manhattan. Lot of folks hanging out and talking about cannabis. Everyone had a great sesh out front. The panel was solid with a focus on how New York interacts with the tribal nations and what that relationship may look like going forward. And as those of you who party with me at such soirées know, we of course made our way to after hours madness, this time at Izakaya Toribar.

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