Weed trade group faces inquiry over allegations of mismanagement and sexual misconduct

David Cruz, Senior Correspondent | September 24, 2019 | Social

A cannabis industry trade group has hired an outside consultant after a hiring subcommittee raised concerns about how the group has been managed. The subcommittee of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association (NJCIA) sent a letter to the board this week, calling for the inquiry.

“We have worked hard to establish our group as integral thought-leaders helping to shape opinion and policy,” reads the letter. “Therefore, maintaining this organization’s influence and integrity should be paramount to all involved. We believe this review will allow the Association to maintain its reputation for integrity and professional conduct.”

A source told NJTV News that after concerns were raised about the organization’s structural integrity, the subcommittee was formed to make recommendations for improving the group’s management, staffing and planning.

“In the course of this review, subcommittee members were made aware of concerns regarding some of the Association’s operations. The members of the subcommittee determined that because of the working and personal relationships among the members of the subcommittee and the full Board, the best course of action was to commission a review of the factual allegations by an independent, outside professional to ensure a full and fair presentation of this information to the full board,” said the letter.

But the source also revealed allegations involving a board member who allegedly acted inappropriately towards several women inside NJCIA and with women conducting business with the group. The source also said that the group had irregular bookkeeping and that consulting contracts and other financial dealings were difficult to follow. Membership fees for the NJCIA can range from $1,000 to $10,000 and tickets to its events can range up to $180, which is what participants will have to pay for the group’s Oct. 2 event. Scheduled speakers to that event include speakers like Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

But the brewing scandal, first reported by NJ Advance Media’s Susan Livio, could affect that Oct. 2 event. Tuesday, Coughlin’s office confirmed that the Speaker has withdrawn from the event. And NJ Cannabis Insider, a subscription-based publication produced by NJ Advance Media, ended its partnership with the NJCIA.

The group has hired an outside consultant to investigate the allegations. A call to NJCIA Executive Director Dara Servis was not returned.

This post has been updated to clarify the relationship between the NJCIA and NJ Advance Media.