State lawmakers are asked to stop ‘gifts’ of cannabis

WEST MILFORD. Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg wants action to stop businesses without state cannabis licenses from giving marijuana to customers.

| 23 Jan 2023 | 10:04

Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg has never been a cannabis fan, but since New Jersey legalized its sale in 2021, she has voted along with the rest of the Township Council to welcome cannabis businesses that receive state licenses.

However, she sees people in “bud buses” that park in West Milford and give marijuana to customers who purchase another item although they have no state cannabis license as a health and safety issue.

She wants state officials to address these attempts to skirt the state law. The council agreed and supported her request to send letters to legislators asking for immediate action.

Lichtenberg explained that ingredients in the unlicensed product and where it comes from are unknown and could be dangerous to those who receive it as a gift after they buy T-shirts, snacks, baked goods and other products - generally at exorbitant prices.

Allowing the practice to continue also is unfair to the business owners who went through proper channels to become licensed, she said.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin has sent cease-and-desist letters to businesses that evade state laws by providing free marijuana gifts to customers, according to published reports.

A company may be violating the Consumer Fraud Act, advertising regulations, and other laws or rules, according to Platkin’s website.

Under the Consumer Fraud Act, each misrepresentation is a separate violation and violators may be subject to a penalty of $10,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for each subsequent one.

“We will not allow vendors to misrepresent what they’re selling,” Kaitlin Caruso, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said in a press release. “Under our consumer protection laws, vendors are subject to fines and penalties for making false statements about what they’re selling. We have warned these companies about our concerns and to stop conduct that could violate our laws.”

Platkin’s office has warned four New Jersey-based vendors: Sky High Munchies, Slumped Kitchen, NJ and West Winds Wellness. The Division of Law and Public Safety has informed the companies that they are under investigation for violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, which prohibits unconscionable business practices, misrepresentation and deception in the marketplace.

The letters note that the vendors’ “gifts” appear to be central to the sales transaction and are not really gifts.