A judge issued a preliminary ruling in favor of a New Jersey medical marijuana company in its legal tangle with New York-based multistate operator iAnthus.
MPX NJ, which received one of only 12 vertical MMJ licenses in the state, sued iAnthus last week, claiming iAnthus has tried to take control of its operations, including construction work at a cultivation facility without authorization, after investing $10 million in the business, NJ.com reported.
MPX Bioceutical and iAnthus agreed to merge in late 2018 and entered into an agreement that would transfer ownership from MPX NJ to iAnthus over time.
But that agreement reportedly has yet to be approved by the state Department of Health.
Judge Joseph Quinn of the Monmouth County Superior Court issued an initial order that blocks iAnthus from representing itself as MPX NJ and undertaking additional unauthorized construction, according to NJ.com.
The company also must inform MPX founder Beth Stavola of all construction at the site, the news outlet reported.
Stavola, a cannabis industry pioneer, served as chief strategy officer and board member at iAnthus before an abrupt departure in August.
At the time, iAnthus had defaulted on interest payments and was trying to restructure.
Financially distressed iAnthus wants to finish the cultivation facility and open the maximum three dispensaries allowed as soon as possible to take advantage of the state’s medical marijuana market and position the company for adult-use sales.
New Jersey voters legalized recreational marijuana sales in November, and lawmakers last week passed an implementation bill that will allow the 12 licensed medical cannabis operators to transition into adult use as soon as the third or fourth quarter of 2021 if they show they can meet MMJ demand.
A Canadian court recently approved an iAnthus restructuring plan.
The MPX lawsuit against iAnthus will resume in January.