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Top marijuana grower agrees to pay RI $625K penalty to maintain license

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the top marijuana-growing businesses has agreed to drop a lawsuit and pay the state $625,000 in exchange for keeping its license that regulators were moving to revoke.

STJ LLC, a Warwick company known better as Fire Ganja, entered into a consent agreement with the R.I. Office of Cannabis Control late last month, acknowledging it had possessed hundreds of pounds of unregistered cannabis products earlier this year in violation of state cannabis regulations.

The company came under fire earlier this year after regulators discovered the illicit material, which is supposed to be submitted and tracked in a state-controlled software system.

The regulators moved to revoke the company’s license this fall after they ordered Fire Ganja to destroy all of the unregistered cannabis, which included 1,473 untagged plants, 1,507 ounces of untagged flower, 2,038 ounces of untagged hash and 276 ounces of untagged concentrate.

But the company now gets to maintain its license and start selling again to retailers in accordance with the consent agreement, which was signed on Oct. 31 and requires the business to pay the $625,000 penalty in four tranches to the state over the next three years.

On Thursday, Fire Ganja co-owner Nick Salvadore said he was appreciative they could work with the state regulators to come up with a resolution “that worked for both parties.”

“We’re happy to have some finality in this situation, glad to get our employees back to work as they have been waiting since mid June, and resume creating products for all the patients and customers that have supported us over the years,” Salvadore said in a statement.

Fire Ganja, which had become a major player in the cannabis-growing industry after recreational marijuana became legal last December, also agreed drop a lawsuit it filed against the state in August.

R.I. Superior Court Judge Brian Stern last month rejected a company request to continue to sell products amid the regulatory scrutiny. But the lawsuit was still pending until it was dismissed after the consent agreement was signed, according to court records.

The agreement also cleared up a dispute over ownership.

Regulators had accused company executives of shifting an ownership stake to another business, San Miguel LLC, and then failing to disclose the change in violation of cannabis regulations.

In response, Fire Ganja executives submitted a sworn affidavit from the owner of San Miguel “disclaiming any and all past, present, or future ownership interest” in the marijuana-growing company, according to the agreement.

Fire Ganja has also implemented a corrective action plan and agreed to enter all cannabis materials into the state software system moving forward.



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