Mandelbaum Barrett: New York’s Hemp Industry Faces Legal Battle Over Regulatory Restrictions

“It’d be like, if one day, the government determined that any hard liquor that’s 40 proof or greater would cause harm” to certain groups, rendering it illegal in stores, homes, and warehouses.”

The hemp industry in New York is under siege, facing a legal battle against regulatory measures that have dealt a severe blow to its operations. A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by hemp manufacturers, distributors, and retailers alleges that recent regulations imposed by New York State Cannabis Control Board have effectively crippled a significant portion of the industry overnight. These regulations, primarily focused on cannabinoid hemp, have forced businesses to remove previously lawful products from their shelves, triggering a wave of discontent and legal action.

The heart of the issue lies in the stringent limits on THC content imposed by the regulatory framework, despite a lack of substantial evidence to justify such restrictions. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends that these regulations were implemented hastily, disregarding the prior court order barring their enforcement. This move has not only disrupted the operations of hemp businesses but has also raised concerns about the legality and fairness of the regulatory process.

Joshua Bauchner, counsel for the plaintiffs, as well as Partner and Chair of Mandelbaum Barrett’s Cannabis, Hemp, and Psychedelics Practice Group, expressed hope that the litigation would prompt regulators to engage in constructive dialogue with the industry to find a viable path forward. He criticized the emergency justifications cited by the state, describing them as unsubstantiated claims lacking empirical evidence.

Impact on the Industry:

The repercussions of these regulations extend far beyond the confines of New York, as hemp products can be legally sold across state lines under the 2018 farm bill. By restricting the sale of hemp products within the state, regulators have effectively denied businesses access to the lucrative New York marketplace, exacerbating the economic strain on industry players.

Furthermore, Bauchner highlighted the heavy-handed tactics employed by the state, including warrantless raids on hemp operators, which he deemed unjustified and disproportionate. Such actions, he argued, not only undermine the rule of law but also create a climate of uncertainty and fear within the industry.

Looking Ahead:

As the legal battle unfolds, the future of New York’s hemp industry hangs in the balance. While the plaintiffs seek to overturn the unjust regulations and restore the industry’s vitality, the outcome remains uncertain. However, one thing is clear: the fight for fairness and accountability in regulatory practices will continue, as stakeholders rally against arbitrary restrictions and undue interference in a burgeoning sector poised for growth and innovation.

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Author Bios

Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena


Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild