LEWISTON — Dan Thayer does not like to call it “pot” or “marijuana.”

Those names, he told the Great Falls Forum on Thursday at the Lewiston Public Library, are designed to stigmatize. But by any name, he sees business potential here.

Thayer, president and co-founder of Thayer Corp., a heating and cooling company in Auburn, created the new Lifespring Microclimates division in 2014 to offer guidance to indoor growers in what he prefers to call the cannabis industry.

“Once it started to become commercialized, it was a great opportunity for people selling stuff, like lighting, cultivation supplies,” Thayer said. “They made horrendous, unfounded claims. They created junk science to propagate, ‘Buy my stuff.'”

Instead of finding data-driven, peer-reviewed information, “there was nothing other than High Times magazine,” he said.

In the years since, strides have been made in indoor-growing best practices that are also applicable to food growing, Thayer said, adding he is happy to be part of the “revolution” that will “permanently transform agriculture.”

“Unless you have the underlying science, you can’t scale up,” he said. “It’s all about predictable outcome.”

Thayer walked the noontime audience of 30 through the history of cannabis regulation. Now that 29 states have legalized the medical or recreational use, he feels federal legalization is on the way.

“The state of Oklahoma is considered one of the most conservative states in the United States,” he said, but added that the state last year passed a medical marijuana ballot question “overwhelmingly.”

“That was considered by many to be a tipping point of public opinion in the United States,” Thayer said.

Maine, which first approved medical marijuana in 1999, will initiate a major overhaul of that program in December. The state’s looking to take up rules for recreational sales next year.

When recreational use opens up, large growers will step in and win market share with scale and price, Thayer said. But as with craft brewers in the beer industry, he sees room for smaller companies to stand out with quality and uniqueness.

“We’ve got four products we’re developed (for the industry); there must be 100 other opportunities,” Thayer said.

“There’s a lot of know-how here; a lot of it is in central Maine. I see a steady growth of all aspects of cannabis and the hemp industry, especially in the value-added side in extractions.”

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