Cannabis: In Focus
- US Sentencing Commission Seeks Amendment To Allow for More Lenient Treatment for People With Prior Cannabis Convictions
- Second Circuit Narrows TRO Affecting New York State Cannabis Retail Licensing
US Sentencing Commission Seeks Amendment To Allow for More Lenient Treatment for People With Prior Cannabis Convictions
The U.S. Sentencing Commission approved a series of amendments to current sentencing guidelines on April 5, 2023. Among the proposed changes, certain amendments aim to treat those with prior cannabis charges with more leniency. Currently, the guidelines advise judges to take prior cannabis convictions into consideration as part of an individual’s criminal history when sentencing in new, unrelated cases.
The amendments suggest that a downward departure of previously calculated criminal history points may be warranted when a defendant had a prior conviction for simple possession of cannabis. The amendments will be sent to Congress by May 1, 2023, and may be effective as early as November 1, 2023.
Second Circuit Narrows TRO Affecting New York State Cannabis Retail Licensing
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit narrowed a temporary restraining order (TRO) on March 28, 2023, affecting issuance of adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses. Previously, a TRO had limited the state issuing licenses in five regions of the state. With the partial lifting of the TRO, dispensary licenses may be issued in Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and Brooklyn regions of the state. Licenses in the Finger Lakes region remain under the TRO.
In the suit, an out-of-state applicant challenged New York requirements for social equity dispensary license applicants. Specifically, the out-of-state applicant challenged requirements that applicants (1) have a “significant presence” in New York and (2) that the entity was owned or controlled by a “justice-involved” individual. A “justice-involved” individual is someone who was convicted of a cannabis-related offense, has family or a dependent with such a conviction, or is a dependent of someone with a conviction.
The court’s narrowing of the TRO comes weeks after the state’s cannabis authorities announced they would double the number of available licenses for recreational dispensaries from 150 to 300.