Regulators in New Jersey dealt a major setback to Curaleaf Holdings Inc CURLF, the state’s leading cannabis company, by denying its request for a license renewal to cultivate and sell recreational marijuana.
According to New Jersey Monitor, the unexpected vote left observers surprised and Curaleaf representatives contemplating legal action and seeking intervention from the attorney general.
Labor & Social Equity Concerns
Behind this decision, the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) cited Curaleaf’s closure of a growing facility, lack of transparency, and conflicts with unionization.
“I think it’s important for the board to have staff at large to have proper insight and timely notice of major changes to facility operations,” said commission chair Dianna Houenou. “It seems there’s still a lot of information missing that should be provided, and that should be done in a way, in a manner that is forthcoming and transparent.”
However, a spokesperson for Curaleaf criticized the CRC’s decision, describing it as unjustified political retaliation. The company expressed concern about the negative impact on its nearly 500 employees and the cannabis market in the state.
Boris Jordan, chairman of Curaleaf, recently stated: “We believe the CRC Board has wrongly interpreted the applicable regulations and that its decision to retaliate against Curaleaf for our need to consolidate production into one local facility is lacking in merit (…) Curaleaf has never been cited for such a violation and we believe 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.”
Commissioner Krista Nash stressed that maintaining a labor agreement is a crucial requirement for cannabis businesses to obtain and renew their license.
After granting 71 cannabis licenses, Commission executive director Jeff Brown acknowledged the progress made in expanding the state’s medical cannabis program under Gov. Phil Murphy (D) but stressed the need to continue improving, per HeadyNJ.
Of the 71 licenses approved, 62 were conditional, three were converted to annual licenses, and six were annual applications. More than 207 conditional conversion applications are being reviewed. Brown stated that they are working to increase efficiency and reduce the review time.
Among the renewed adult-use cannabis licenses for the vertically integrated companies include Verano VRNOF, Acreage ACRHF, TerrAscend TRSSF, and Rise, a fast-growing cannabis retail chain owned by Green Thumb Industries GTBIF.
Curaleaf, according to a press release, will remain “open for business and will continue working with the CRC Board and its staff to ensure the renewal of our adult-use licenses, including by any legal means necessary.”