In Reversal, New Jersey Regulators Approve Curaleaf’s Recreational Marijuana License Renewal—With Conditions

“If the meeting served to remind companies of that obligation, then the CRC has done its job. Let me make this very clear—it is time that we favor people over profits.”

By Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, New Jersey Monitor

Curaleaf can continue selling recreational cannabis at all of its New Jersey locations after the state’s cannabis regulators reversed a decision they made Thursday that would have sharply limited where the company can sell weed.

Monday’s vote came during an emergency meeting of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission called to address Curaleaf’s application to continue growing and selling recreational marijuana. The newest vote—which grants the company renewal of five annual licenses, with some conditions—came just a few hours after Curaleaf workers rallied in Trenton in opposition to Thursday’s vote.

The commission approved the licenses with four votes in favor and one against—commissioner Charles Barker—and no discussion. The meeting lasted seven minutes.

Last week, just one commission member, Samuel Delgado, voted to renew Curalef’s licenses.

A Curaleaf representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dianna Houneou, the commission’s chair, said Monday that by the body’s next meeting, Curaleaf must provide evidence that it is bargaining with union employees in good faith, attest under oath to its “activities and tactics,” produce records regarding plans to modify its New Jersey operations, and provide information on hiring employees and vendors meeting “certain criteria.”

If by the next meeting, scheduled for June 1, Curaleaf hasn’t met these requirements, the board can issue penalties, including fines and revocation of the renewed licenses, Houneou said.

During Thursday’s meeting, commissioners who voted against Curaleaf’s licenses or abstained from voting indicated that they were displeased with the company’s clash with workers attempting to unionize and with how transparent Curaleaf has been with the state.

Commissioner Krista Nash on Monday said last week’s vote represents a wake-up call for companies that “did not understand or appreciate their obligations as it concerns labor relations.”

“If the meeting served to remind companies of that obligation, then the CRC has done its job,” she said. “Let me make this very clear—it is time that we favor people over profits.”

Nash stressed New Jersey’s marijuana legalization law specifically lays out labor provisions for cannabis companies to follow, including maintaining a labor-peace agreement and bargaining for a contract within 200 days once workers vote to unionize. She made similar statements at Thursday’s meeting.

She explained her decision last week was based on public testimony from Curaleaf workers and union organizers who said the company isn’t complying with the law.

“At this juncture, the cannabis industry in this state is at a crossroads. Either we hold true to the law and protect hard-working men and women of New Jersey who want fair wages and working conditions, or we can reward bad behavior and ignore these mandates for the sake of profit and money,” she said.

Last week’s rejection of Curaleaf’s licenses left cannabis advocates and business insiders stunned and was cheered by Curaleaf’s critics. The reversal Monday came after meetings with Curaleaf executives and commission members, cannabis insiders said.

Without the commission’s approval of annual licenses, recreational sales would have ceased at Curaleaf’s Bellmawr and Edgewater Park locations starting Friday. Its Bordentown location would have been left unaffected.

This story was first published by New Jersey Monitor.

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