Syracuse, NY; March 14, 2024: Pacific Legal Foundation is now representing a New York business that is challenging the State’s discriminatory business licensing scheme for cannabis retailers. The State favors some applicants more highly than others based on the race and sex of the owners. The result: Valencia Ag is prevented from being considered for a license on equal terms.

When the State legalized the sale of cannabis, brothers William Purcell and Emmet Purcell established a business and secured a lease to open a cannabis shop. All they needed was a microbusiness license. But New York’s application review process prioritizes applications from women and minorities, leaving the Purcell brothers as non-preferred applicants while their expenses accumulate.

“The government cannot give preference to anyone based on immutable characteristics like race or sex. Doing so is unfair and unconstitutional,” said David Hoffa, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The only criteria that should matter is whether an applicant can demonstrate that they will run a safe and legal business. Everyone deserves the right to try to earn a living regardless of their race or sex.”

The case is Valencia Ag, LLC v. Alexander. Valencia Ag is represented by Pacific Legal Foundation free of charge.

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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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