Battery charge dropped against Ascend cannabis co-founder Abner Kurtin

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Image of scales of justice

(This story was updated at 4:23 p.m. ET to include information from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and Ascend’s stock price.)

A battery charge against Abner Kurtin, a co-founder and former chief executive officer of New York-based multistate cannabis operator Ascend Wellness Holdings, was dropped on Friday after neither the alleged victim nor the witness agreed to cooperate with the police and prosecutor, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

The two also refused to give statements for use in court, according to a spokesperson for the office.

“This made it impossible for the misdemeanor battery case to go forward in our criminal court,” Ed Griffith, public information officer at the State Attorney’s Office, told MJBizDaily via email.

Earlier Friday, Kurtin denied having been involved in a physical altercation with his domestic partner in a statement to MJBizDaily that was provided by New York public relations firm Mattio Communications.

In that statement, Kurtin also said “the charges against me were dismissed.”

A hearing had been scheduled for Friday morning in a state court in Miami.

Image of Abner Kurtin
Abner Kurtin

Kurtin was charged with battery, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 6 after a witness reported a violent interaction inside his car to police in Miami Beach.

According to the court affidavit, the witness said she saw Kurtin “striking” a woman “and then grabbing her head and striking it against the dashboard of the vehicle.”

“My partner and I were involved in a verbal argument that was never physical at any point,” Kurtin said in the statement issued Friday morning.

“I have apologized to her privately for my verbal actions, and we both moved on with our relationship in a positive matter.”

Investors and industry consultants shared concerns with MJBizDaily that the incident could be damaging not just to the company but to the cannabis industry as a whole.

Ascend announced Wednesday that Kurtin would leave the CEO role to serve as executive chair of the board.

In his place, Chief Financial Officer Daniel Neville and co-founder and President Frank Perullo will be co-CEOs as the company searches for a permanent leader.

According to the Sept. 6 arrest affidavit, officers eventually spoke with Kurtin’s partner, who said she had been involved in a “verbal altercation” with him “but that she was fine and nothing else happened.”

The officers noted “a small bump to the left side of her forehead” – the woman said it was a pimple, according to the arrest affidavit – as well as another “small bump to the upper left eye.”

In his statement to MJBizDaily, Kurtin said:

“I want to thank the Miami Beach police who acted appropriately at the time and did their job as police officers.

“Domestic physical violence is a problem in our society and should not be tolerated.

“Florida has put in place the strictest mandatory arrest laws in the country to allow time to protect victims and diligence the circumstances.

“I thank the police officers again for their unwavering commitment to upholding the law and to protect the lives of many.

“Lastly, I would like to personally thank all who helped me get through this difficult event.

“I am profoundly grateful for those who supported me and were patient for the due process of law.”

Ascend Wellness trades as AAWH on the over-the-counter markets. The company’s stock was little changed late Friday.

The company also trades as AAWH.U on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Kate Robertson can be reached at kate.robertson@mjbizdaily.com.