NJ reverses decision to kick Curaleaf shops out of recreational weed market

New Jersey officials voted at an emergency meeting Monday to allow Curaleaf to continue recreational cannabis sales at all three of its dispensaries across the state. The move represents a rapid reversal of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s decision last week to not renew Curaleaf’s licenses to sell cannabis for non-medical purposes at its shops in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park.

Curaleaf, which operates in 19 states including New York, is one of the largest cannabis companies in the country.

At the time of the original vote, which took place last Thursday, officials cited Curaleaf’s failure to give them proper notice that it was laying off 40 workers at one of its grow sites. James Shorris, Curaleaf’s chief compliance officer, said at the hearing that most of the workers affected were given the option to be transferred elsewhere in the company. But board members said they were still concerned about the lack of transparency.

Four of the five Regulatory Commission board members voted in favor of renewing Curaleaf’s recreational licenses Monday. But one member, Krista Nash, added that the initial denial “appears to have been a wakeup call for many cannabis companies doing business in New Jersey.”

“Apparently some companies did not understand or appreciate their obligations” with regard to employee labor relations, she said at the meeting.

In a statement Monday, Boris Jordan, chair of Curaleaf’s board, said the company would “continue working collaboratively with the [Cannabis Regulatory Commission] board and its staff to ensure our good standing in the state of New Jersey.”

Curaleaf’s recreational licenses were renewed under the condition that the company provide the Commission with additional information, including updates on any intended changes to its operations in New Jersey, and evidence of good faith efforts to reach collective bargaining agreements with unionized workers.

The company operates three adult-use dispensaries in New Jersey, all of which also sell medical marijuana. Recreational licenses, which must be renewed annually, were due to expire this week at the company’s locations in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park. Curaleaf’s Bordentown site isn’t due for an adult-use renewal until October, according to Toni-Anne Blake, a spokesperson for New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The commission’s recent decisions would not have impacted medical marijuana sales at the locations.

Still, Curaleaf acted swiftly to denounce Thursday’s denial. In a statement issued Friday, the company said it would work with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to get its licenses renewed – but added that legal action was not off the table.

About 100 Curaleaf employees reportedly rallied Monday morning in Trenton to protest the decision not to renew the company’s recreational licenses.

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