The New Jersey cannabis lawsuit alleges CEO Ken VandeVrede stole money, resources, and Intellectual Property from the company.
New Jersey Cannabis Lawsuit Details
The suit “Suzanne Voorhees V Hillview Med Inc.” was filed in Morris County by Kalo co-founder Kenneth Voorhees III and his wife, Suzanne. Voorhees ran a noted perfume manufacturer.
Nikolas Komyati is representing the Voorhees in the case. He declined to speak on the record.
The suit says Ken Voorhees developed all the nuances of the Kalo CBD hemp drink while running the perfume company. He wanted a partner with VandeVrede, whose family runs the Gro-Rite Greenhouse & Garden Center.9
Voorhees then agreed to a contract that gave VandeVrede 60 percent ownership of the company that he would run it while Ken and Suzanne Voorhees got the remaining 40 percent.
The suit notes that VandeVrede was previously embroiled in controversy while working for Terra Tech, which resulted in another lawsuit. He served as their Chief Of Operations (COO) beginning in 2013. VandeVrede then resigned from them and came back to Jersey.
The suit says the Voorhees were unhappy resources were going from kalo to support securing their medical cannabis license under Hillview Med, in which they had no ownership stake.
Kalo Hemp Drink Company Problems
They cite that Kalo’s President, Aaron Harris, refers to Kalo as “Kalo Brands, LLC (A HillviewMed Company) on his LinkedIn profile.
In the New Jersey cannabis lawsuit, it says when they did not make enough money, Voorhees gave the company a $500,000 line of credit. In addition, VandeVrede got a loan from BCB Bank to help Kalo when the suit alleges he spent all the money securing a license.
The New Jersey cannabis lawsuit also says they copyrighted Kalo under Hillview when it was already trademarked under Malkalo, which Voorhees set up.
They also say VandeVrede tried to dilute their interest in Kalo through illegal maneuvers.
Hillview Med also had an issue of allegedly owing money last year.
VandeVrede counter sued.
“Kalo was founded in 2019. Hillview Med is the majority shareholder, in full control of operations,” VandeVrede explained.
“There’s a disagreement. He was supposed to put in capital, and he didn’t. We’re working this through. It should be resolved shortly,” he noted. “Hillview Med funded Kalo the whole way through.”
“It’s absolutely completely false. Hillview has funded it. Hillview has operated it,” VandeVrede said about the allegations in the New Jersey cannabis lawsuit. “We are the driving force behind all this.”
“Sometimes, when you start a company, you don’t agree on certain things. So it’s best for us to solve it, resolve and move forward. We’re actually talking. It should be resolved very shortly,” he added.
VandeVrede called the counter-lawsuit he filed a mere “formality.”
“We’re close to a resolution,” he added.
Regarding the issues with TT VandeVrede said, “We exited, and they acquired all our shares in the company. I resigned from the board and left in 2018. That’s old news. It’s a long time ago.”
Hillview Med and New Jersey Cannabis
VandeVrede said Hillview Med is doing well. Its flower and pre-rolls are now in six or seven New Jersey cannabis dispensaries.
New Jersey cannabis industry and policy experts say there are far too growers in the market currently, leading to the great problems of overpricing and low quality.
Hillview has been working to integrate itself into the New Jersey cannabis market. They also won a New Jersey recreational cannabis manufacturing license last year. It is based in Pequannock in Morris County. Hillview Med has been working on getting its manufacturing license and local approval there.
They are a member of the NJ Cannabis Trade Association and say they’re women-owned.
As an old-money family farm, Hillview Med has not reported problems with the issues that most New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs and small businesspeople face regarding money, real estate, and local politics.