ALBANY — Four of New York's five medical marijuana companies have filed suit against the state Department of Health to stop it from licensing additional operators to take part in the tightly run state program. The companies argue that the expansion could tank the nascent industry and potentially harm thousands of patients who rely on medical marijuana to treat their ailments.
A judge did not immediately grant a request for an injunction to stop the process.
DOH spokeswoman Jill Montag said the agency "will continue to fight any attempts to block patients from the relief they deserve."
The lawsuit comes as DOH has privately told companies that new licenses could be issued as soon as next month, according to the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association. The association, which represents the five companies currently licensed, filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of four of them.
The suit argues that even if DOH had authority to issue more licenses, patient demand doesn't warrant doubling the current supply market. The companies also claim DOH is arbitrarily offering preferential treatment to "stale" applicants "that may not actually exist, and certainly do not exist as they did two years ago" in considering only original applicants who came in six through 10, and not 33 other applicants from the original 2015 process.