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marijuana moneyMedical marijuana has been legal in New York since 2014, and cannabis possession was decriminalized earlier this year. Will New York join the 11 other states in which recreational cannabis will be legal in 2020? If it does, where will federal courts in New York and New York’s Commercial Division turn for guidance as they adjudicate novel issues presented by the commercialization of a formerly illegal substance, and one that remains illegal at the federal level?

Various sources present themselves. First, there is case law from jurisdictions like Colorado and California that are at the forefront of the legalization movement. However, New York has a proud history of developing its own jurisprudence and asserting its own leadership role, particularly in commercial disputes. Moreover, New York commercial law, which places significant weight on the contracts entered into by parties, is well-developed and may be applicable to many of the disputes that will arise. Finally, New York courts may look to equitable considerations to decide cannabis issues of first impression.

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