On June 13, 2023, the Second Appellate District affirmed the City of Pomona’s use of a statutory exemption for its Commercial Cannabis Overlay Permit Program under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines section 15183, finding that the program required no additional environmental review. The decision in Lucas v. City of Pomona is noteworthy for the appellate court’s broad interpretation of the statutory exemption,[1] holding that (i) the City’s zoning ordinance, General Plan Update, and environmental impact report (EIR) that do not address “density” may be exempt under CEQA Guidelines section 15183, and (ii) uses, including cannabis-related uses, that are not literally included in land use plan documents, may be determined to be sufficiently similar to existing and defined land uses allowed by underlying zoning.

Continue Reading Commercial Cannabis Permit Program and Overlay District Statutorily Exempt Under CEQA Guideline Section 15183

On November 10, 2022, in the matter Variscite NY One, Inc. v. State of New York, et al., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York granted the plaintiff’s a motion for a preliminary injunction against the State of New York (“NYS”), the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”), and the Executive Officer of the OCM, Christopher Alexander issuing any cannabis licenses under NYS’s conditional adult-use retail dispensary (“CAURD”) application program in 5 of the state’s 14 geographic regions.

Continue Reading Federal Judge in NY Issues Preliminary Injunction to Block Retail Cannabis Licenses on Constitutional Grounds

California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health & Safety Code § 25249.5 et seq.) (“Prop 65”) is a California law that prohibits any person in the course of doing business from “knowingly and intentionally expos[ing]” individuals to listed carcinogens and reproductive toxins without adequate warning. Recently, in Environmental Health Advocates, Inc. v. Sream, Inc., 83 Cal. App. 5th 721 (2022), the First District Court of Appeal had the opportunity to interpret the word “expose” as used in Health & Safety Code § 25249.6, concluding that possible indirect contact with a listed Prop 65 chemical, depending on how a consumer chooses to use a product, is insufficient to constitute a cause of action under Prop 65. 

Continue Reading Up In Smoke – CA Court of Appeal Dismisses Prop 65 Case Against Water Pipe Manufacturer Narrowly Construing The Term “Expose”

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (“CRTA”), which was enacted in 2019, legalized recreational adult use cannabis in Illinois. The CRTA also created a Social Equity Program intended to offer disadvantaged people, communities of color, and those disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs an opportunity to benefit from the cannabis industry. Pursuant to the Social Equity Program, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (“IDOA”) awards points to applicants for cannabis licenses based on factors such as residing in an area disproportionately impacted by prior laws criminalizing cannabis and veteran status.[1] The program was widely praised and seen by many as a potential blueprint for other states. In practice, however, administration of the Social Equity Program has proved fraught with difficulties. Various types of applicants that have been denied the valuable licenses have sued IDOA, claiming that the department wrongfully denied their licenses. 

Continue Reading New Litigation Continues to Challenge the Social Equity and Scoring Process of the Illinois Cannabis Regulation And Tax Act