A bill that would let Maine’s small medical marijuana providers form cooperatives is running into resistance from opponents who say it could result in large operations that would be exempt from local regulations.
Proponents, however, believe the bill would level the playing field for sellers of Maine’s most valuable cash crop and put the industry more in line with other economic drivers such as farming, lobstering and aquaculture.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, would overturn a prohibition on cooperatives in the medical cannabis industry that was established to prevent racketeering and cartels within the medical program.
The language of the proposed bill was not available Monday.
In a public hearing Monday, many medical marijuana patients and individual providers, known in the industry as caregivers, spoke in support of the bill and said it would improve access to capital and resources for small business owners, offering protection against unfair competition from larger corporations.
Marijuana caregivers have long worked with “an economic deck stacked against them,” Warren told the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, without many of the same benefits provided to other industries such as banking and insurance. [Read more at Portland Press Herald]