This story was updated at 2:42 p.m. on Dec. 23 with information from iAnthus’s reply brief, which was filed after this story was published.
Two marijuana firms are embroiled in a legal fight over the ownership of a Pleasantville cultivation facility.
MPX NJ, a group owned primarily by Elizabeth Stavola, last week sued iAnthus Capital Management and its New Jersey subsidiary, claiming the company illegally highjacked the operation of the Pleasantville Alternative Treatment Center, for which the two firms hold a shared lease.
The suit claims iAnthus attempted to negotiate with local and state regulators on MPX NJ’s behalf, relying on a master services agreement that has not been approved by the New Jersey Department of Health.
“These actions cannot stand, as they threaten MPX NJ’s ATC permit, expose it to liability from third parties, and tarnish its reputation, as well as that of its owners, across the cannabis industry,” the suit said.
It charges iAnthus attempted to negotiate a cannabis production fee with Alfred Scerni, who is Pleasantville’s municipal counsel and sought to negotiate agreements — including authorizing construction — with other firms in the cannabis industry on MPX NJ’s behalf despite having to ground to do so.
In its response brief, iAnthus charged Stavola and MPX NJ authorized it to work on its behalf, further claiming the former iAnthus executive’s severance agreement required she assist the company with the transfer of MPX NJ’s cannabis license.
The suit asks that Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph Quinn file declaratory judgements affirming MPX NJ as the holder of an alternative treatment center permit it was awarded in 2018 and rule the master services agreement between the two firms is unenforceable absent approval from the New Jersey Department of Health.
It also seeks to enjoin iAnthus from acting on behalf of MPX NJ. The larger firm claims such an injunction would necessarily disrupt the status quo and alleges nothing in any of its agreements with Stavola or her firm would block it from negotiating with regulators.
iAnthus further claims agreements between itself and MPX NJ allow the firm to obtain 100% equity in the latter firm, pointing to millions it invested in facility developments and other matters.
Stavola’s filing alleges further wrongdoing by iAnthus. Stavola, a former executive at the marijuana industry giant, left the firm and its subsidiaries in August, the suit says. But in September, iAnthus told regulators in Nevada she was still CEO of GreenMart of Nevada, an iAnthus subsidiary.
Stavola claims iAnthus attempted to force her into signing documents for GreenMart when made aware of her departure the month prior.
Lowenstein Sandler attorneys Chris Porrino, a former New Jersey attorney general; Matt Platkin, former chief counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy, and Justin Corbalis are representing MPX NJ.
Paul Josephson, of Duane Morris, is representing iAnthus.
Quinn will hear oral arguments on the temporary restraints sought by Stavola at 11 a.m. Wednesday.