Bill Calling for Secrecy in Marijuana Industry Divides Cannabis Community

February 18th, 2020, Adult-use, Cannabis Law, Licensing, State

Efforts to keep some marijuana license details secret have divided Maine’s cannabis community: some see secrecy as protection from rivals and theft, while others worry it will allow out-of-state raiders to take over the local adult-use market.

But the industry is united against a state proposal to deem alcohol-based extraction of marijuana oil a hazardous process, saying it would price out most small operators, render at-home extraction illegal and drive up the retail costs of marijuana edibles, salves and tinctures.

Those were among dozens of proposed changes sought Monday during a two-hour committee hearing on L.D. 2091, an Office of Marijuana Policy bill to amend Maine’s adult-use marijuana legalization law before the market opens this spring.

An underlying theme of David versus Goliath echoed through much of the public testimony.

“The alcohol issue is nothing more than a big money game to squeeze the little guy out of business,” said caregiver Dawson Julia, who owns a medical marijuana shop in Unity that sells infused goods as well as smokeable flower and is the founder of United Coalition of Maine.

As for license secrecy, Julia said the state government is demanding too much information from license applicants, but that he himself has submitted a public records request for state marijuana license information to find out exactly who wants to enter Maine’s adult-use market.

“I want to know how many Maine people are applying versus how many Wall Street companies,” Julia said. “It is very important for people to have those numbers. This is an important part of building this industry the right way.”

The Maine Craft Cannabis Association argued for a middle ground on public disclosure, urging the state to reveal the identities of those seeking licenses, and who is bankrolling them, but keep disclosable security and process information to generalities, like ingredient lists or underage sales prevention training.

Some of Maine’s medical marijuana dispensaries, like Wellness Connection and Maine Organic Therapy, support the department’s bill, which would exempt security, trade secret and standard operating procedures from the public records law. Some would like to add financial data to that list, too.

“The proposed amendment is not really about hiding information or veiling the market in secrecy,” said attorney Malina Dumas of Drummond Woodsum, who counts Maine Organic Therapy among its clients. “It’s about protecting an emergent industry from fraud and misuse of sensitive information.”

Published by the Portland Press Herald online on February 10, 2020.  To continue reading the article click here.