New Jersey fines 5 marijuana operators $360,000 for adult-use infractions

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New Jersey regulators fined five marijuana multistate operators a total of $360,000 for allegedly making nearly 3,200 adult-use sales in April during hours that were to be set aside for medical cannabis patients.

Bloomberg News reported the fines, based on state cannabis commission documents obtained through an Open Public Records Act request.

The enforcement action shows that New Jersey regulators were serious when they said they intended to fine marijuana companies in the state $10,000 a day if they didn’t prioritize MMJ patients.

Still, the Bloomberg report also showed that the state kept quiet about the enforcement action.

The fines also are a cautionary tale for marijuana companies that don’t adhere to state regulations.

The operators were allowed to fast-track adult-use sales based on their pledge that they had enough medical marijuana supply and would put MMJ patients first.

“Any cannabis business that does not prioritize medicinal cannabis patient access should expect similar action,” Jeff Brown, executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg via email.

The state’s projected $2 billion recreational marijuana market launched April 21.

Regulators reported a relatively smooth start with few glitches during the first few days.

According to Bloomberg:

  • New York-based Acreage Holdings allegedly made 257 adult-use sales when it shouldn’t have on that day at its Egg Harbor and Williamstown, New Jersey, stores combined.
  • Massachusetts-based Curaleaf Holdings recorded 142 sales that day at its Bellmawr, New Jersey, store.

The fines, calculated at $10,000 a day for alleged violations, broke down this way, according to documents reviewed and cited by Bloomberg:

  • Acreage, $60,000.
  • New York-based Ascend Wellness, $80,000.
  • Curaleaf, $50,000.
  • Illinois-based Green Thumb Industries, $80,000.
  • Chicago-based Verano Holdings, $90,000.

Curaleaf spokesperson Stephanie Cunha told Bloomberg that the company took responsibility and paid its fines.

Curaleaf is “living up to our promise to provide two designated hours to the medical community at each of our locations every day,” Cunha said in a statement cited by Bloomberg.

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She added in the statement that Curaleaf faced “overwhelming lines and demand” for adult-use marijuana products at its store during the first few days of the recreational launch, while there were “virtually no lines” for MMJ patients because most had stocked up in advance.

Acreage, Ascend, Green Thumb and Verano didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg requests for comment.