Salem lifts spell on medical marijuana

Salem’s Alternative Therapies Group becomes the first dispensary to open for business under the long and winding regulatory road set up by the Bay State. Gov. Charlie Baker quietly paved the way late last week, granting a one-time waiver from the state’s quality testing regime to the company.

It’s a first for the Bay State and for Salem. One of the most striking of features of this historic development is the revenue-sharing offer the company proposed. Alternative Therapies Group and the city of Salem worked out an agreement stipulating that 1.25 percent of the company’s sales in the first two years will go into city coffers, rising to 2 percent thereafter. (The company initially offered Salem a five-year, $50,000 deal.) Amesbury, the host city for the company’s cultivation facility, also worked out a financial arrangement.

The advent of medical marijuana in Massachusetts and the push for legalization of recreational marijuana presents cash-strapped local and state governments with tantalizing new revenue-generating possibilities.

According to the Marijuana Business Daily, medical and recreational marijuana sales contribute about $10 billion overall to state and local economies, with sales from medical outlets and retail recreational stores making up about $3.1 billion of that total. In Colorado, where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, the state took in $16 million in medical marijuana tax revenues alone last year; recreation sales produced $53 million in tax revenues.

A bill that would legalize and tax recreational marijuana is pending in the Legislature but it is unlikely to see much movement given Speaker Robert DeLeo’s opposition to outright legalization.

Currently, Massachusetts does not levy a sales tax on medical marijuana.  Until Massachusetts decides whether taxes should be levied on medical — and potentially recreational — marijuana, cities and towns will have to rely on the goodwill (and business sense) of medical marijuana companies and their own negotiating chops to work out mutually beneficial deals. That’s where Salem and Amesbury can serve as models. Which may be a good thing given the Bay State’s regulatory track record to date.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY

 

BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo indicates the House will push for more of the MBTA reforms sought by Gov. Charlie Baker. (State House News) The Herald reports that the MBTA Carmen’s Union has waged an all-out campaign, including $300,000 in radio ad spending, to block some of Baker’s proposed reforms, including an end to binding arbitration and suspension of the anti-privatization Pacheco law.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

An outside review of the Boston Public Library, whose leadership Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration has slammed over haphazard management of valuable special collections, says the city needs to boost resources to the system if it expects better performance. (Boston Globe)

Fallon Ambulance has filed suit against Quincy and Brewster Ambulance seeking to stop Brewster from taking over the emergency service in the city, which Fallon has operated for 18 years. (Patriot Ledger)

A huge storm cloud seemed to hover over Plum Island. Was it the beginnings of a tornado? (Eagle-Tribune)

OLYMPICS

Independent Evan Falchuk forms an unlikely alliance with the conservatives who led the successful ballot fight against gas tax indexing. Their goal: pass a ballot question banning the use of public money if Boston hosts the 2024 Olympics. (CommonWealth)

Dante Ramos has a valuable step-back look at what a thorough and thoughtful blueprint for Olympic planning might look like. (Boston Globe)

Andrew Zimbalist isn’t expecting anything from bid 2.0 to change the overall equation he sees of huge risks of cost overruns that the public will end up on the hook for. (Boston Globe)

The US Olympic Committee has begun polling Boston residents. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS

As the state’s first gambling facility opens in Plainville, Stephen Crosby, the head of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, says his agency will spend $15 to $20 million a year on problem gambling. (CommonWealth)

New Bedford voters overwhelmingly approve a planned waterfront casino. (Standard-Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Even as retailers such as Sears, Amazon, and eBay follow Walmart in removing merchandise from their inventories with Confederate flags emblazoned on them in the wake of the South Carolina church massacre, manufacturers say demand for such items has surged. (Associated Press)

President Obama has been the best thing to happen for gun dealers, according to data from the Journal of Public Economics, which shows gun sales skyrocketed as fear spread that the prospect of an Obama administration would mean more gun control. (U.S. News & World Report)

ELECTIONS

Massachusetts launches online voter registration. (State House News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Home ownership rates in Massachusetts — and across the country — are falling, with more people squeezed by rising prices and flat wages. (Boston Globe) Meanwhile, the rental market is booming and the high rents are thwarting people who would traditionally buy homes as they remain stuck in place, unable to save for a downpayment. (New York Times)

Lots of eyes are on the soon-to-be-razed Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester, which sits on a valuable parcel that has been touted as possible UMass Boston dorms or an Olympic village — or both. (Boston Globe)

The parent company of Stop & Shop has struck a deal to buy the Hannaford supermarket chain, which would create the fifth biggest supermarket chain in the country. (Bloomberg News)

EDUCATION

State officials press Lawrence schools receiver Jeff Riley over claims by teachers that they were let go without a proper evaluation of their performance. (Eagle-Tribune)

State officials are looking into a daycare program at Brockton schools that is partially subsidized by state funds after The Enterprise reported some staffers do not pay for their children to attend.

Canton voters passed a $4.1 million Proposition 2½ override for schools by a 3-1 margin. (Patriot Ledger)

HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts hospitals are doing a poor job of providing patients with information on costs and charges, as required by law, according to a report by the Pioneer Institute being released today. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Kinder Morgan representatives receive an earful from residents of Peabody, including Mayor Ted Bettencourt, about their proposed natural gas pipeline. (Salem News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be formally sentenced to the death penalty today. More than 20 survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings and relatives of those he killed are expected to deliver witness impact statements during the proceedings at the federal courthouse in Boston. (Boston Globe)

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz says she may ask US District Court Judge Mark Wolf to recuse himself from the penalty phase retrial of convicted killer Gary Lee Sampson because Wolf had a psychiatrist who was a defense witness over for lobster rolls last year at his Martha’s Vineyard vacation house.

A Washington, DC, research group says twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists and anti-government extremists as by Islamic jihadists in this country since the 2001 terror attacks. (New York Times)

Angel Echavarria talks about his 21 years behind bars for being wrongfully convicted of a murder in Lynn in 1994, saying “the only thing that bothers me is that they’re not apologizing.” (Greater Boston)

The escaped New York state inmates are very likely to be captured — although their odds of staying free increase if they elude authorities for a month. (The Atlantic)

MEDIA

Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane listens as Worcester residents talk about how the media contribute to racism.

Local TV news icon Jack Williams, who had already been in semi-retirement, will sign off for good with tomorrow’s newscast on WBZ-TV. (Boston Herald)