New Jersey’s Curaleaf might have to stop selling recreational marijuana in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission voted not to renew a recreational marijuana license for Curaleaf, stripping one of the state’s largest cannabis producers and retailers of the ability to serve recreational customers.

As a result of Thursday’s vote, Curaleaf will likely have to stop adult-use sales at at least two of its dispensary locations in Edgewater Park and Bellmawr by April 21 — the one-year anniversary of the launch of legal weed in New Jersey. Medical marijuana sales will not be impacted, industry publication Cannabis Business Times reports. In a motion for renewal of Curaleaf’s licenses, the CRC board issued one “yes” vote, two “no votes,” and had two abstentions.

Curaleaf called the CRC’s decision “as arbitrary as it is lacking in merit and legal basis,” and “an outrageous act of political retaliation,” in a statement following the vote. The company vowed to “ensure renewal of our adult use licenses, including by any legal means necessary.”

Curaleaf’s renewal application involved its dispensaries in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park, as well as its cultivation facilities in Bellmawr and Winslow. It’s not clear if a third Curaleaf dispensary in Bordentown is impacted; that dispensary began recreational sales in November, while the other two started sales the day legalization went into effect last year. New Jersey marijuana laws require recreational license holders to submit renewal applications at lease 90 days before their licenses expire.

Curaleaf’s application went before the board after the company announced it would close its Bellmawr growing facility last month, which resulted in layoffs for 40 employees. Curaleaf plans to consolidate its cultivation efforts at its grow site in Winslow.

CRC commissioners pointed toward the Bellmawr cultivation facility’s closure, and subsequent layoffs, as a reason for the denial. Commission chair Dianna Houenou said the company failed to provide the CRC with enough information to make an informed decision.

“There’s still a lot of information, missing information, that can be provided, that should be provided,” said Houenou, who abstained from voting.

Curaleaf’s chief compliance officer, James Shorris, told the commission that five of the employees from the Bellmawr grow site were no longer working with Curaleaf due to “job performance and other issues,” and that the others were offered other positions in the company. Shorris added that he wasn’t sure of the timing between when the company began considering changes to its operations, and when it filed its application for renewal.

Houenou said she was concerned about the layoffs, and that Curaleaf did not warn the CRC that they were coming.

“It’s important for the board and staff to have proper insight and timely notice,” Houenou said.

In a statement, Curaleaf chairman Boris Jordan said that the company “has never been cited for such a violation,” and that “there is no regulation requiring permission for the staff reduction we announced.”

“Curaleaf is in good standing with the CRC and has fulfilled the requirements necessary for the renewal of our licenses,” Jordan said.

In a separate statement, the company warned that the decision will impact nearly 500 employees in the state, and “harm the broader New Jersey cannabis market.”

Just one commission member, vice chairman Sam Delgado, voted to renew Curaleaf’s license. Commissioners Krista G. Nash and Charles Barker voted to deny the renewal, while commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso also abstained from voting. In a memorandum, CRC executive director Jeff Brown recommended Curaleaf’s recreational license be renewed. Curaleaf was the only operator to have its motion for renewal denied at Thursday’s meeting. A number of other operators, including Rise, TerrAscend, and Acreage, received renewals.

Currently, all of Curaleaf’s retail locations in New Jersey remain “open for business,” the company said.

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