New Jersey regulators have reinstated Curaleaf’s adult-use operations in the state, reversing action last week denying renewal of the company’s cultivation and retail licenses.

In an emergency meeting on Monday, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) voted to vacate its decision to fail to renew Curaleaf’s two Class 1 Cultivator licenses, its Class 2 Manufacturer license and two Class 5 Retailer licenses. Last week's decision contradicted a memo from the CRC’s staff to approve the license renewals.

Curaleaf employees and supporters also protested the decision in Trenton on Monday, reported.

"Today's decision by the CRC Board to vacate their unprecedented action last week is an incredible victory for our 500 New Jersey 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. “I am incredibly proud of and grateful to every one of the hundreds of dedicated team members who showed up today, not just for their jobs and livelihoods, but for a better, safer cannabis industry in New Jersey."

During deliberation last week, board members cited concerns over reporting of social equity initiatives, as well as how Curaleaf notified employees and the CRC of a workforce reduction at its cultivation facility in Bellmawr in light of ongoing collective bargaining activities.

CRC Chairperson Dianna Houenou initiated Monday’s vote, noting Curaleaf must provide the board with evidence of “good faith efforts” to negotiate collective bargaining agreements at each facility, “attest under oath” to its “activities and tactics,” produce records on intentions to modify its New Jersey operations, and provide updated information on employees and contracted vendors. If the board finds Curaleaf has failed to meet these requirements, the company could face a fine or revocation of its licenses.

Following the vote, Commissioner Krista Nash called last week’s meeting “a wake-up call” to cannabis companies operating in New Jersey.

“Apparently, some companies did not understand or appreciate their obligations as it concerns labor relations with their employees or their representatives,” Nash said. “If this meeting served to remind companies of that obligation, then the CRC has done its job.”

Nash added cannabis companies must follow labor provisions under New Jersey’s CREAMM Act, which concerns the regulation and use of cannabis. Specifically, companies must adopt labor peace agreements, bona fide unions must be given unhindered access to employees who will vote to be represented by that union, and collective bargaining agreements must be negotiated within 200 days of startup.

In last week’s meeting, James Shorris, Curaleaf’s chief compliance officer, cited market conditions for Curaleaf’s decision to reduce workforce at its Bellmawr facility, adding that the company’s state-of-the-art Winslow facility produces flower at a “very efficient rate.” Shorris noted all but five affected employees were offered positions at other facilities, and those who weren’t offered other positions were let go over job performance or other issues. The Asbury Park Press reported 40 employees were impacted by the reduction.

Shorris said he was unsure if the decision to reduce workforce coincided with Curaleaf’s license renewal application, but he said the company notified employees last month.

Houenou had touched on Curaleaf’s notification process before abstaining in last week’s vote.

"I am concerned about the layoff announcement that apparently was made last month before any information was provided to the commission about any changes that Curaleaf was going to make," Houenou said. "I think it's important for the board and the staff at large to have proper insight and timely notice of major changes to a facility's operations."

In introductory remarks, Shorris noted Curaleaf’s sales have generated more than $5 million in tax revenue for New Jersey and $1.8 million for the municipalities in which it operates. The company has also completed 291,000 medical transactions since the launch of New Jersey’s adult use program, representing 32,000 patients. 

"This decision by the board is a victory for Curaleaf, a company that has proudly generated tens of millions of tax dollars for the State, invested upwards of $75 million more to support its cannabis industry, and supplied cannabis products to nearly all of New Jersey's licensed dispensaries, including social equity license holders,” Curaleaf Chairman Boris Jordan added. “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."