July 18, 2010; Source: Maine Sentinel | Now that nonprofits can legally sell marijuana in Maine, concerns are being raised—not about what the nonprofits are selling—but about how much they are required to disclose about their operations. While state officials might have presumed that as “nonprofits” medical marijuana dispensaries would be as transparent as public charities, the reality is more fuzzy. In fact, lawmakers might have erred when they classified the budding marijuana shops as “mutual benefit nonprofits.”
Under Maine law, that designation typically applies to “a condominium association or a private golf club that serves an exclusive category of people,” according to the Morning Sentinel. Because the dispensaries are not seeking charitable tax exemptions, state law does not require them to disclose salaries or other financial details. Instead, they are primarily restricted from paying out profits.
The revelation that marijuana shops don’t have to reveal everything is lighting a fire under some lawmakers. Sen. Stanely Gerzofsky, a Democrat from Brunswick, said, “We expected total transparency. We talked about it. We would want to make sure they were truly nonprofit and not nonprofit in name only.” Gerzofsky is promising that the legislature will remedy this oversight—about lack of oversight—as soon as possible. “There’s going to clearly be reporting requirements. We’re going to have to work out an awful lot of the details.” Until the problem is resolved, our advice to lawmakers, breathe deeply and exhale slowly.—Bruce Trachtenberg