If you’ve struggled to make sense of marijuana policy in Maine, you’re not alone. As founder of the Maine Craft Cannabis Association, I’ve fought for 3½ years for a fair playing field for Maine entrepreneurs and to protect consumer rights and choice – I have borne witness to the chaos. Yet never did I expect we would be where we are today.

Within a week of the Maine attorney general bowing to a corporate bully (Acreage Holdings, owner of Wellness Connection in Portland) and taking the unusual step of not defending Maine’s residency requirement for marijuana licenses – a law he voted for as a legislator – Portland’s City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on the most restrictive marijuana ordinance in the state. Why, in a time of economic crisis, are we trying to clamp down on our fastest-growing industry with regulations no other businesses – including alcohol – must navigate? Overregulation plainly only benefits Big Marijuana.

Following the attorney general’s lead, there’s even a proposal to remove credit for residency in city licensure, giving Acreage – whose board includes former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, an anti-marijuana champion of Big Tobacco – an even bigger advantage.

To Portland residents who voted “yes” in 2016: Does this look like what you voted for? Four years on, Maine has subverted the fair, open approach accessible to smaller operators that was approved by the people to an overregulating, waste-mandating, crushingly high-tax jurisdiction. All without allowing its entrepreneurs to sell one single gram of adult-use marijuana. We can, and must, do better.

Mark Barnett

owner, Higher Grounds; founder, Maine Craft Cannabis Association

Portland

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