HIGHTSTOWN — A response to a fire alarm led to the discovery of nearly $1 million worth of high-grade marijuana product, authorities say.

A strong smell of marijuana was noticed by police last Thursday  when they answered the alarm at an office on Mercer Street in downtown Hightstown operated by Neil Schloss, 46 of Millville, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri.

The Prosecutor's Office returned the next day with a warrant, and discovered edible marijuana product with a street value of over $900,000, including 80 pounds of bulk marijuana and $2,449 in cash, the office said. Schloss was running a company called CannaSense, which supplied marijuana edibles ordered via a website, according to Onofri.

Many of the items discovered were edibles, which Onifri said have increased in popularity with the legalization of medical marijuana.

“The fact that they are a very tantalizing, tempting way for people to experiment poses even greater risks to keeping marijuana out of the hands of children and teens," Onofri said.

Edible marijuana is illegal in New Jersey, with the same penalties for possession of straight marijuana.

Investigators also found 26 bank accounts with $777,900, the prosecutor's office said. The accounts were frozen by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Among the items found, according to the prosecutor's office:

  • 808 energy drinks
  • 3,489 pill bottles containing raw marijuana (high-grade designer marijuana)
  • 488 bags of assorted edible THC products (hemp gummies, trail mix, honey bars, jolly rockets, etc.)
  • 40 jars of relief balm
  • 3 boxes of dog biscuits
  • 21 boxes of THC pretzels
  • Lowell smokes

Schloss was charged with maintaining and operating a marijuana manufacturing facility, possession of marijuana over 50 grams, possession with the intent to distribute, a first-degree offense, possession with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school and possession with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of public housing. He was released pending a court appearance.

Earlier in the week, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office issued a warning about inspecting Halloween bags for marijuana candy. Spokesman Al Della Fave said that marijuana candy is expensive and that people use it mostly for medicinal purposes.

"We want to educate parents that this product exists so at the very least they check the kids candy at the end of the night and if they see something is not wrapped or the wrapper has no manufacturers labeling throw it out,” Della Fave said.

Symptoms include dizziness, shallow breathing, red eyes and dilated pupils, dry mouth, increased appetite and slow reaction time, paranoia, anxiety, depression and short term forgetfulness.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com