HALLOWELL, Maine (AP) — Employees at Maine's largest medical marijuana dispensary group have unionized, but the head of the company that employs more than 40 people won't say if they'll recognize the union, officials say.

The Friday announcement that many of the employees of Wellness Connection of Maine had unionized came days after the Maine Department of Health and Human Services determined the company had violated 20 state laws and rules, many surrounding pesticide applications.

Barbara Heap, an employee at the company's Auburn cultivation center, said she and others attempted to address state violations with management before reporting them to regulators.

"For our employer to put profits and convenience over patient safety and health is not only wrong, but also morally reprehensible," she said.

The Portland Press Herald ((http://bit.ly/10ohOTJ) reports that Wellness Connection Executive Director Becky DeKeuster wouldn't directly answer questions on whether the company would recognize the union. "With a union or without a union, WCM is going to continue to improve," she said.

"We're dealing with a lot of challenges," DeKeuster said. "The end result is going to be improved conditions for them, for our patients, for everybody."

DeKeuster said treatment of plants with certain natural pesticides has been common in the industry. She said the group will abide by Maine's standard. "This is a great opportunity for us to establish standards," DeKeuster said.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com