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April 17, 2023

New Jersey regulators renew Curaleaf's recreational marijuana licenses, reversing earlier decision

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission voted Monday to vacate an action that would have shut down the company's dispensaries in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park

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Curaleaf New Jersey Marijuana Street View/Google Maps

Curaleaf's Bellmawr, New Jersey dispensary is shown above. The company received renewals from state regulators on Monday for its recreational marijuana licences.

New Jersey regulators voted Monday to renew the licenses of marijuana retailer Curaleaf, reversing course on last week's decision to limit the company's footprint over concerns about its labor practices.

In an emergency meeting, the state's Cannabis Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to approve Curaleaf's application to continue selling recreational marijuana. 

The vote last Thursday had threatened to revoke Curaleaf's annual permits at its dispensaries in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park — both short drives from Philadelphia — and would have restricted the company's ability to produce recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

The CRC's latest action requires Curaleaf to provide evidence and testify under oath that it is bargaining in good faith with union employees, Marijuana Moment reported. The company also must share more information with the commission about its hiring practices and plans to modify its operations in New Jersey.

"Today's decision by the CRC Board to vacate their unprecedented action last week is an incredible victory for our 500 NJ team members and vindication for what we knew all along: Curaleaf is in good standing with the CRC and has fulfilled every requirement necessary for the renewal of our licenses," Curaleaf CEO Matt Darin said Monday.

Curaleaf, headquartered in Wakefield, Massachusetts, is one of the country's largest marijuana companies, producing and distributing medical and recreational cannabis. The company operates dispensaries in 23 states, employing about 6,000 people.

Last month, Curlaleaf drew scrutiny from New Jersey regulators after it shuttered one of its cultivation facilities in Bellmawr. CRC chairwoman Dianna Houenou had said the company failed to notify the state before making the decision. Curaleaf said the employees at that facility had been offered jobs elsewhere in the state, but the CRC questioned the company's transparency about the relationship between the closure and unionization efforts. 

The state's marijuana legalization law requires companies to maintain a labor-peace agreement and bargain with workers who vote to unionize within 200 days. Employees at Curaleaf's Edgewater Park store voted to unionize last October, followed by workers at the Bellmawr shop in March. They joined the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 360 along with cannabis employees at other companies in the state. 

Curaleaf will be required to testify about progress in its bargaining with the union at the next CRC meeting in June.

Prior to Monday's vote, Curaleaf employees rallied in Trenton to oppose the pending loss of jobs that would have taken effect on April 21 if the company's licenses were not renewed. That date marks a year since recreational marijuana has been legally available in New Jersey.

"Curaleaf remains open for business and will continue working collaboratively with the CRC Board and its staff to ensure our good standing in the state of New Jersey," Curaleaf Chairman Boris Jordan said.