A surprising blow came to Curaleaf, one of the biggest companies in the New Jersey cannabis market. The state rejected Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed. Read on to find out more.

Holding a farmer holding a cannabis leaf.

What Does New Jersey Rejecting Curaleaf’s Bid to Sell Recreational Weed Mean?

Curaleaf had been denied renewal of its license to grow and sell recreational weed in almost all its New Jersey locations. The vote came about a week before the anniversary of recreational weed sales in the state. It left the company and others in shock.

A representative from the company is seeking the help of the attorney general and looking into taking legal action.

The denial of Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed means the company must cease recreational sales at two out of its three locations when its current license lapses on April 21. Its Bellmawr and Edgewater Park locations must cease recreational operations while its Bordentown location remains unaffected.

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission rejected Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed a month after the company confirmed it would be closing one of its growing facilities and laying off 40 workers. The commission denied the bid citing the closure, the company’s issues with unionization, and their lack of transparency with the state as the reasons for rejecting the license.

“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. 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,” said Commission Chair Diana Houenou.

The vote to reject Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed was almost unanimous. The only member of the commission who voted to approve the license was Samuel Delgado.

The Company Reaction to New Jersey Rejecting Curaleaf’s Bid to Sell Recreational Weed

Curaleaf representatives are shocked by New Jersey rejecting Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed. A spokesperson called it an “outrageous act of political retaliation” that lacks merit and the legal basis.

“Most alarmingly, it will adversely impact our employees, nearly 500 New Jersey residents, and Curaleaf team members- as much as it will harm the broader New Jersey cannabis market,” the company said.

The company was not the only party shocked by the vote. Potential licensees and cannabis advocates who were present in the meeting room were taken aback by the outcome. People whispered to each other wondering how the company would move forward.

One person applauded the vote.

What the Vote to Reject Curaleaf’s Bid to Sell Recreational Weed Means for the Cannabis Industry

The New Jersey recreational cannabis industry launched about a year ago. As a result, many dispensaries and treatment centers were up for renewal licenses. Curaleaf was one of the first companies to get the green light for selling recreational weed in the state.

Commissioner Krista Nack pointed out that New Jersey’s legalization law includes a requirement for cannabis businesses to adhere to a labor peace agreement which mandates that employers and unions agree on certain rights in exchange for agreeing not to strike. Collective bargaining must be brought to the table within 200 days after a dispensary opens if most employees agree to form a union.

Nash emphasized that this was a legal requirement, “not a challenge for companies to find a loophole in the law. It is an explicit mandate,” she explained.

“People have different definitions of what ‘maintain’ means. If you maintain your car, I don’t know if that means letting it sit in a garage. But it doesn’t mean, in this term, filing an agreement away in a drawer, but rather to implement the terms of what parties agreed to,” she stated.

Curaleaf chief compliance officer James Shorris spoke on the company’s behalf at Thursday’s meeting. He pointed out the company’s investments in New Jersey, its many medical and recreational customers, its job creation, and its diverse staff. He also defended the closure of the Bellmawr site stating it was due to flower demand changes and cost concerns.

Houenou congratulated the company on its diversity efforts, but said she still had to cast her “difficult vote”.

Several other dispensaries were approved for licenses at the Thursday meeting, such as Verano, Terrascend Rise, and Acerate.

The commission canceled its May meeting but plans to meet again in June.

The Future of Curaleaf

New Jersey rejecting Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed has not been the only struggle the company has been dealing with this year. In January it announced it would be streamlining its business by closing most of its operations in California, Oregon, and Colorado. It also revealed that it would be closing its Amesbury, MA facility and consolidating its cultivation and processing operations in Massachusetts into a single operation.

The company cited a “difficult operating environment” as its reason for closing these facilities. Curaleaf estimated that shutting down operations in those states would help it exceed its initial savings target by 50% and allow it to focus on income-driving markets moving forward.

Though the company has faced hard times in the past year, including New Jersey rejecting Curaleaf’s bid to sell recreational weed, it has plans to continue expanding its business.

On April 14, 2023, it announced the opening of Curaleaf Boca Raton Glades in Boca Raton, FL. The Boca Raton location is the company’s 59th dispensary. It plans to open its 60th dispensary, Curaleaf West Palm Beach, by the end of the month pending regulatory approval.

The company currently operates in 19 states, owns 151 dispensaries, and employs 5500 team members.