DPH plays catchup on marijuana

Even as the Patrick administration was defending itself in court against charges it bungled the selection process for medical marijuana dispensaries, officials at the Department of Public Health were ordering up more background checks on those the agency already selected.

DPH had previously narrowed its background checks to key figures at the dispensaries, but now it plans to check out everyone involved, including volunteers and consultants. A letter sent to the dispensaries said the additional background checks were “only one part of the ongoing verification process.”

Lawyers for three companies whose dispensaries didn’t make the cut with DPH urged Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mary K. Ames to direct the agency to start the process all over again. The companies insist the selection process was unconstitutional, discriminatory, and in violation of the agency’s own regulations.

Most of the questions raised about the selection process so far have focused on the qualifications of key staff and false representations by applicants about support from local politicians. CommonWealth reports that the business plans of the successful applicants are also puzzling, with projections about first-year revenues, patients, and marijuana production varying wildly from one applicant to the next.

For example, New England Treatment Access, which plans to open a dispensary in Brookline, is forecasting that it will grow 2,400 pounds of marijuana in its first year, while a Holyoke dispensary expects to grow only 25 pounds. Even so, the Holyoke dispensary is forecasting $3.8 million in sales during the first year, which works out to about $9,400 an ounce.

–BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick declared the recent spike in opiate abuse a public health emergency and pledged funding and an increase in treatment services. The governor also authorized police to use a drug that can stave off the effects of a possible overdose. Greater Lowell advocates decry the lack of treatment resources available for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues, the Sun reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Globe reconstructs the timeline of events surrounding Wednesday’s deadly Back Bay fire that claimed the life of two Boston firefighters. The investigation into the cause of the fire continues, with a fire department spokesman saying only, “There was some kind of extraordinary event that happened in the basement.”

The New Bedford City Council is considering a measure to restrict makeshift memorials on city streets for victims of violence or car crashes because the sites often end up unattended and turn into litter and debris.

The lawyer for a West Bridgewater police officer who was one of four cops to receive six-figure settlements from the town for charges of discrimination releases a copy of the $100,000 agreement to the Brockton Enterprise after town officials repeatedly denied a public records request from the paper.

CASINOS

The New Hampshire Senate approves legislation that would lead to two casinos in the state; the bill now goes to the House, which has voted against casino gambling in the past, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Sheldon Adelson spends big to block online gambling.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A new report suggests New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was told about the bridge lane closings while they were closed, the New York Times reports.

Some sort of Internet tax bill seems likely to emerge from Congress soon, Governing reports.

ELECTIONS

The Atlantic weighs a possible Republican takeover of the Senate.

EDUCATION

The Quabbin Regional School Committee is considering using a collection agency to chase bad lunch debts.

With universal preschool a big national issue, many around the country are looking to Boston to see the benefits, WBUR reports.

Proposed changes to the high school dress code that would ban leggings and yoga pants without a long shirt or sweater dominated the Weymouth School Committee meeting.

HEALTH CARE

A Superior Court judge orders the North Adams Regional Hospital’s emergency room to remain open on a temporary basis as state officials try to find a way to keep the facility from closing. Meanwhile, the Berkshire Eagle gives a thumbs up to the nurses who are using “Occupy” movement tactics to bring attention to the community’s plight.

A study of Massachusetts hospitals found that emergency room visits increased rather than decreased with the implementation of the state’s universal health care law. The state extends by two weeks the deadline to sign up for health coverage through the problem-plagued Health Connector website. Via Paul Levy.

Obamacare exceeds its target of 6 million signups, a goal that was revised downward when problems first surfaced with the website that now seems to be operating smoothly, the Washington Post reports. The New York Times characterizes the health initiative less as a monolithic effort, and more as a collection of state-based experiments.

Nurses at North Shore Medical Center set up an informational picket line outside the facility yesterday as contract negotiations with the hospital stall, the Salem News reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Don’t rush: The MBTA launches its pilot late night service beginning tonight.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Haverhill man is arrested, held on $100,000 bail, and charged with being a part of a massive credit card counterfeiting scheme, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MEDIA

From one John Henry employee to another: Jerry Remy tells Dan Shaughnessy that he does not plan to step down as a Red Sox television announcer, despite the pressure to do so that has grown following a story in last Sunday’s Globe by a third Henry employee about the long trail of destruction and violence left by Remy’s son, accused killer Jared Remy, a former Henry employee.