I have had the pleasure of talking with both Diane Russell, Democratic state representative for Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood, and David Boyer, Maine political director at the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy reform organization.

Although these conversations were separate, many themes were echoed. The main topic of discussion was the future of the recreational cannabis industry in Maine and how anticipated legislation would determine the laws and regulations within the industry.

My interest in the recreational cannabis industry is financial. I am a finance student at the University of New Hampshire with a passion for business enterprise.

The medical and recreational marijuana industry already has a significant tailwind and enormous development potential, hallmarks of a growth industry. An examination of the impact of any future laws on the structure and availability of opportunity in the industry is crucial for investment.

Of the topics discussed, the most vital was the following:

If and when a legalization bill or citizens’ initiative passes, will it create laws with the intention of limiting or expanding large corporations already heavily invested in the Maine medical marijuana marketplace? And how will such restrictions affect the cottage industry of medical and recreational marijuana production in the state?

Boyer and Russell were both ambiguous on the subject. They insisted that limitations most likely will be present, whether through the number of plants, the amount of space or another metric.

The logic of establishing this type of regulation is equally ambiguous. Importantly, it was unclear whether or not the opportunity would remain for anyone to enter the cottage industry side of this marketplace.

Large out-of-state organizations and money have considerable presence in Maine and have played a significant role in the expansion of medical marijuana availability. To what extent pressures from these organizations will adversely affect a growing cottage industry is a concern. Mainers will need clarity on this issue if a referendum is placed before them in the future.

The existing medical marijuana market in Maine is a vital cottage industry that has provided income to Mainers throughout the state. In like comparison with the microbrewery industry, an industry heavily regulated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, both large and small business investment is present.

There is no question that the recreational marijuana market will require regulation. License qualifications and product quality standards are just some examples of the kind of oversight that is expected in order to maintain a healthy industry.

The opportunity, however, for any qualified Mainer to open, run and expand a microbrewery in Maine is restricted only by the selective pressure of a free market, not by the number of breweries that are allowed to open.

Medical marijuana caregivers and hopeful recreational marijuana entrepreneurs have shared with me their concerns that any recreational marijuana regulations will restrict the size of the cottage industry, while – quite possibly deliberately – allowing the larger businesses and more financially capable organizations an opportunity to filch the lion’s share of the market.

I believe this is the wrong way to approach the launch of what promises to be an enormous industry for the state of Maine. Limiting an industry by restricting the amount of output is counterintuitive to both growth and prosperity – particularly with respect to opportunity for small-business creation.

Unfortunately, there is little financial and legislative precedence to reference. Therefore, a fallback to a comparison with the microbrewery industry again seems most appropriate.

Within the beer industry, demand exists for both mass producers and microbreweries. Large breweries with capital and influence easily co-exist within the beer industry, in large part because of the unique nature of the styles and flavors offered by the microbrewery industry, compared with the limited selection from the major players.

It remains a significant and very real possibility that demand for locally grown and cultivated marijuana will have a place within the recreational cannabis industry, and limiting the number and size of any of these opportunities makes no sense. I can only hope that the legislators realize the function of the free market and how limiting output will also limit the benefit to the state of Maine.