The Maine Growers Alliance is an organization founded with its spotlight pointed on education and advocacy within the context of Maine's legally-established cannabis markets.
Created in April of 2020, this newly established collective of local marijuana cultivators and their partners, have worked to culminate efforts towards maintaining high standards of cannabis that not just Maine has come to be known for, but standards paramount to the health and experience of consumers. Maine’s premier cultivators and extractors, such as Paul’s Boutique Nursery and Royal River Botanicals, as well as other local cannabis-related organizations including medical storefronts, lawyers, and lobbying groups have compiled their expertise and knowledge to work towards feasible solutions through holistic approaches.
Composed solely of small-to-medium-sized growers, the Alliance is ingrained in devotion towards fighting for the rights and best interests of small-scale cultivators. While a substantial portion of Maine medical patients utilize small-batch caregivers over larger state-run dispensaries, outsourced-competition from just a few giant powerhouses create a struggle for caregivers to be heard while advocating for one might believe needs change. By providing these growers with a like-minded collective, their fortified opinions can now become amplified and potentially heard, an instrumental step for continued success of the localized medical program, and crucially, the up-hill battle to establish and acquire market-presence within the recreational sphere.
The announcement of the group came at a pivotal time. On May 11, 2020 Maine’s previous ruling was deemed unconstitutional, wherein resultantly, residency requirements for recreational businesses were removed. Many in the cannabis community saw this as a hit towards remaining competitive within the scope of the colossus that is Wellness Connection Center. Just recently in the heat of a tumultuous lawsuit, Maine’s largest medical cannabis dispensary now has a judicial advantage jointly beneficial to their already unmatchable corporate backing. As representatives of the Maine’s government continue to favor large, out-of-state-funded, entities over the small, local cultivator, it is becoming far too easy for sudden single-entity dominance through aggressive vertical integration and the muddling of competition's voices.
In an effort to lead the fight against a franchise takeover the MGA could carve itself a spot in the legislative cannabis circle and subsequently increase the likelihood for a much-needed say in further legislation Funding generated through the group will be put towards maintaining partnerships with lobbyists in a closed-loop effort to inch closer to the alliances goals. On the medical side, a significant issue with current regulations are plant and square footage limitations placed on caregivers, leeding many confined to unnecessarily restrictive and cost prohibitive situations. With regards to a recreational market, current legal language scripted by Maine relating to terms like “mother plant” and “seedling” are more obscure and filled with corporate-loopholes than the rapid-fire disclaimers on pharmaceutical adverts. Without a strong and unified voice to stand behind, there is little faith in the state to resolve simple irregularities with input from opposing spectrums of the economic and industrial market-share.
Yet, this is just a portion of promising initiatives towards putting the pressure back onto powerful cannabis conglomerates. A new branch of the group’s agenda has gained ever-recent traction. Looking towards amending relationships between the differing caregiver and dispensary, these future aspirations are not just beneficial in themselves for their obvious philanthropic resonance, but rather a glimmer of hope budding off of a historically pressing and contemporary concerning issue - local versus corporate.
It seems foolish for law to not allow both medical and recreational services from under the same cannabis-caring locals. Yet this is the reality, a reality scripted through law through a failure in acknowledgement for the flaws and competitive roadblocks committed by clueless decision-makers, making said decisions from an input of information only sourced by one, corporate and fiscally-focused side of the story. There are many small-scale medical cannabis providers who live for the privilege to implement adult-use sales in already established businesses poured into with passion and constant determination. As of now, there can be no co-habitation of medical establishments with those catering to adult consumers. People who live to provide medication, givers of care who innovate for patients, family-men who through the fruits of their labor create an extended family of compassion become automatically disenfranchised from stepping into a new market with their already pre-existent proven values.
With a binary choice, one or the other, a store must choose between recreational or medicinal services, forcing a morally challenging decision to be made. Soon businesses will have to weigh their choice to provide care and compassion with a desire to have a presence in the economic floodpool on the cusp of having its towering gates swung wide.
Resultant of consistent qualitative success, proper cultivation has lead caregivers to garner dominance, setting the competitive-bar through product differentiation (an advantage in quality, which then standardizes and increases what is to be expected from informed consumers) It is simple to transfer caregivers proven track records to draw-up a future outlook of recreational operations. While there are valid reasons for firm-distinctions between medical and recreational markets, namely the differentiation of client-base, a factor which directly implies differences in quality expectations and operational-responsibility, the decision to exclude the possibility of co-mingling has far more to do in tune to the fact that it is a catalyst for unmatchable competition led by new, out-of-state organizations looking to dip their opportunistic toes in a market almost certain to result in exponential industrial-growth.
With Miane’s medical program among the most inclusive nationwide, most caregivers continue to focus on what they have been doing, rather than being hooked by temptations to delve into an uncertain frontier of adult-use sales. Combined with the recently frustrating removal of residency requirements, far and few currently stand in the way for large corporations to become key players in the establishment of the recreational market. Legal standings, which up until now lacked sufficient pressure and input from small businesses as process to corporate vocal-oppression have systematically enforced the easability for out-of-state-organizations, existent through the doctrine of economic opportunity, rather than care shaped through quality, consistency, and accessibility lend to the possibility of a oligopolistic future of corporate cannabis capitalization through strategic dominant holdings of market-share and a supply-invoked belittlement of current quality-expectations.
The MGA strives to combat the corporate way of thinking and lobbying. Attempting to halt the current mission to lock locals out from opportunity within their own lives upon lands. The tides are turning though and local legislation appears to be hearing more than just one piece of the pie. By doing so, we have begun to move towards the right direction for the empowerment of local cultivators and community figures.
For more information and all current leads in the fight for fair-competition and preserved local-opportunity visit MaineGrowersAlliance.com
Maine Potcast Contributor