Verano Zen Leaf and Acreage/The Botanist were fined for the second time in less than 12 months for ignoring medical cannabis patients while serving adult-use cannabis customers.
They are both cannabis corporations that are Multi-State Operators (MSOs) and White male majority-owned and not based in New Jersey.
According to NJ.com, Verano, and Acreage were both fined $5,000.
Medical cannabis patients complained to the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC), which led to an investigation.
Verano Zen Leaf Ignores Medical Cannabis Patient Line
Medical cannabis patients are supposed to be served first. But Zen Leaf kept them waiting in line while serving adult-use cannabis customers at their Neptune Township location last year.
According to the medical cannabis patient’s complaint, they pre-ordered medical cannabis products.
“6 medical patients and I watched 5 rec (recreational cannabis) customers pick up their order,” the person explained. “I watched one medical customer walk away. I asked the female budtender (sales clerk) that kept taking Rec customers when she had a free second: “Do you take medical patients?” She mumbled and then said she needed to switch computers. She switched computers then kept taking Rec pick up customers,” the person wrote. “Myself and 6 other people behind me had been waiting for 35+ minutes to be addressed by any staff.”
New Jersey Medical Cannabis Patient Problems
“For the entire duration of this happening, the recreation line moved faster, and more customers were helped,” the patient added.
The medical cannabis patient also complained that the budtenders were not trained in a new system. Cannabis edibles are now being weighed in grams rather than as an eighth of an ounce. The patient’s budtender also selected the wrong edible “then needed to go back to correct it.”
“I have a disability that I cannot stand for prolonged periods of time. Standing there was causing serious distress in my body. I hope this feedback is taken seriously,” the patient explained.
According to the NJCRC investigative report, they reviewed the Zen Leaf video, which they had access to. Thus they confirmed the situation.
Acreage/The Botanist Problems
A medical cannabis patient complained about service at the Acreage/The Botanist dispensary in Egg Harbor this past January.
It’s quite amusing since the facility used to be owned by the “Compassionate Care Foundation.” This medical cannabis patient found so little compassion they were fined.
According to the NJCRC, a medical cannabis patient “waited 30 minutes to be served. According to information received, the patient was told by staff that there was only one medical register, yet about 20 recreational customers were in/out.”
Similar to the Verano Zen Leaf investigation, the NJCRC was able to confirm the medical cannabis patient’s story through access to the Acreage/Botanist cameras.
The investigator found that “during the time the patient was waiting to be served, 3 medicinal marijuana patients sales were completed and 19 adult use consumers were served.”
Apparently, the Botanist lied to the NJCRC and said they had three exclusively medical cannabis patient cash Points of Sales (POS) cash registers while they only had one.
Coping with Problems
The $5,000 fine Verano Zen Leaf and Acreage/The Botanist received was low since the NJCRC could have fined them up to $50,000.
The NJCRC justified the low fine by saying, “The leniency in establishing this penalty is the result of the corrective action plan that was submitted and immediately implemented by the license holder in relation to the current violation.”
Thus, it seems they have addressed the issue.
Such a low fine will not likely cause a large company to change its policy.
The lack of available budtenders is a labor issue. Budtenders should not be blamed for the errors of Management.
According to the NJCRC, they have already paid the fine.