HIGHTSTOWN — The Hightstown Fire Dept. responded to a fire alarm on Mercer Street last week and did not find smoke and fire, but the strong smell of marijuana, authorities said.
After ensuring there were no fire hazards, police investigators obtained a search warrant and returned the next day to the storefront in the 100 block. Police found a marijuana operation that dealt in a number of products, including edibles, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office alleged Wednesday.
Officers seized 80 pounds of bulk marijuana and $2,449 in cash.
They also found “a plethora” of products – over $900,000 worth – including hundreds of energy drinks, hemp gummies, pretzels, and even dog biscuits, all laced with THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical in marijuana.
Also recovered was 3,489 pill bottles of raw marijuana, which the prosecutor’s office described as “high-grade, designer marijuana.”
Investigators arrested Neil E. Schloss, 46, of Millstone, who authorities identified as the operator of CannaSence, an online store that sells high-grade marijuana products that he was shipping from the storefront, the statement said.
The building is also home to Castle Consulting, an accounting, payroll and consulting firm, for which Schloss is the president and a certified public accountant (CPA).
“The market for marijuana edibles has dramatically increased as medical cannabis legalization has spread across the country,” Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said in the statement.
Schloss was also in control of approximately 26 bank accounts totaling $777,900, the statement said, all of which have been frozen.
Schloss is charged with maintaining and operating a marijuana manufacturing facility, and various possession charges. He was released from custody Wednesday, pending trial appearances.
Prosecutors originally filed to detain Schloss pending trial, but withdrew that request in court Wednesday and consented to his release, with several conditions, including prohibiting him from using any medications without a prescription.
Schloss has spoken at several public events about marijuana products and marijuana rights.
A call to Schloss’s lawyer was not immediately returned late Wednesday.