CRC pushes back on complaint of limited number of retail cannabis outlets

New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission pushed back a bit on the idea that the industry is not opening up fast enough in New Jersey.

The comments came in response after Curaleaf, the largest distributor in the state, said last week it had to lay off workers at its Winslow production facility because they had enough product to handle what needed to be sold in the state’s 35 retail outlets.

“We do not believe the New Jersey cannabis market is struggling — we believe it’s growing sustainably, as evidenced by increasing sales in every quarter, growing from $80 million in Q2 of 2022 to $145 million in Q1 of 2023,” the statement read. “There are now 49 dispensaries opened across the state, with 35 serving recreational customers, and we have now awarded 191 new annual licenses and more than 50 ATC expansions, with many on pace to come online before year’s end.

“One hundred and thirty-eight of the new licenses are for manufacturing or retail businesses — potential Curaleaf customers. As with all kinds of businesses, performance against increased competition and customer choice will determine success.”

Curaleaf CEO Matt Darin told ROI-NJ that the company — the largest in the country — still does not believe the cannabis sector is struggling in the state. He just believes it is too small.

Darin said the decision to lay off workers was simply about supply and demand. With so few dispensaries, there is only a limited need for product, he said.

“This is basically scaling back production because we have ample supply to meet the current needs,” Darin said.

Those needs, he said, are limited by the limited number of stores.

“The reality is the market just hasn’t developed as many predicted — and that’s really a function of not having not enough legal distribution taking place throughout the state,” Darin said. “Only having 35 licensed adult-use dispensaries for a state of almost 10 million people is not sufficient by any stretch — and all prognosticators, from the state to every market participant, expected by July 2023 to have multiples more than that, but it just hasn’t occurred.”

Darin said all three of the company’s retail dispensaries are doing well, with the Bellmawr dispensary being one of the highest grossing in the country for the company (which has 152 stores in 19 states).

Darin also said the company plans to bring back many of the workers it laid off — a note that thrilled the CRC.

“We are unhappy to see workers laid off and hope Curaleaf will do everything possible to place the affected employees in new positions,” the agency said.