Bipartisan buzzkill

After the struggle to get medical marijuana off the ground, did anyone really think there would be little institutional resistance to legalizing recreational use and commercial sale of pot?

Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are set to bring their considerable fundraising skills and estimable offices to the battle to defeat the planned ballot question in November.

Baker says the push to defeat the question is about “legalizing a recreational marketplace for a drug that would put our children at risk and threaten to reverse our progress combating the growing opioid epidemic so this industry can rake in millions in profits.”

Walsh’s story about alcoholism recovery and his support for others in the throes of addiction is well-known, and DeLeo has been championing legislative efforts to stem the rise of overdoses and opiate abuse.

The plan is to muster the support of law enforcement, medical providers, and addiction experts to persuade the public about the dangers of legalizing the evil weed. But the planned campaign puts them squarely at odds with the rest of the state, which favors legalizing adult use by a double digit margin in several polls. That, however, does not seem to deter the trio who have been leading voices in the fight against drug abuse and addiction over the last couple years.

The policymakers’ view that marijuana is a gateway drug that is tied to narcotic abuse is counter to the view of voters in the state, many of whom have grown up with easy access to marijuana and haven’t seen the predictions of Reefer Madness come to fruition.

They overwhelmingly supported ballot questions to decriminalize personal use and possession of small amounts of pot in 2008 and allow the sale and growth of medical marijuana in 2012. Both of those initiatives were met with vehement institutional opposition and dire predictions of the state going to pot, so to speak.

But it’s been stop and go on implementing the laws. When decriminalization was first passed, there were efforts at the local level to narrow the scope of the law on where possession was legal, though few passed. And it’s taken years for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation fields to get up and running, with delays by state officials and lawmakers to smooth the way for the process to start.

Even now, there’s a battle in the Legislature over whether to consider marijuana an agricultural crop, which would allow local farmers to use their land to grow it, or a controlled substance. There are numerous reports of banks resisting loans and services to marijuana sellers and growers because it’s still illegal at the federal level and investors are fearful of ramifications for financially supporting an illegal drug.

The key to it all, though, is money. The anti-legalization group is slated to raise whatever it takes to fight the question, while the backers of the initiative have deep pockets and have funded similar successful campaigns around the country, including Colorado, which became the first state to make recreational pot legal.

The success there has spurred some Colorado companies to become angel investors in the budding industry here.




Gov. Charlie Baker got booed while addressing a LGBT networking event in Boston last night over his refusal to take a stand on the transgender rights bill, cut short his remarks to the group, and left. (Boston Globe) LGBT rights has become the latest front in the states’ culture wars. (Governing) For all the brouhaha over the bill and Baker’s fence-sitting, yesterday’s Download speculated that he wouldn’t actually veto a bill — if the Legislature actually sends one to his desk.

The House rolls out a $39.48 billion budget plan, slightly leaner than Baker’s proposal. (State House News Service) A Herald editorial likes what it sees in the House budget, saying it follows the same fiscal responsibility approach as the governor’s spending proposal. The paper urges the Senate to join the team, which sounds like a nice way of telling Stan Rosenberg and his liberal legions not to get any ideas. Matt Stout points out the ways the House parts with the administration, including its failure to include the administration’s increase in reimbursements for districts that lose students to charter schools. (Boston Herald) MassLive also does a comparison between the governor’s bill and the Ways and Means version.

Time is starting to run short on Beacon Hill, as the clock is ticking toward the end of the session. Rep. Brian Dempsey, a key member of House leadership, cites energy and economic development as two priorities in the waning days. (CommonWealth)


A Lowell Sun editorial backs an effort to come up with a legal way to contain panhandling by what the newspaper calls “roadside beggars.”

Despite City Council opposition, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is moving ahead with his plans to raze three somewhat historic buildings because they have become eyesores. (Masslive)

The Worcester Business Development Corp. screens a six-minute video providing a tour of what Worcester may look like in 2020. (Telegram & Gazette)

Start your engines: The planned IndyCar race for Boston over Labor Day weekend gets the green flag from state and city agencies. (Boston Globe)

Norwell selectmen are seeking approval from voters to create a zone for billboards for a quarter-mile section along Route 3. (Patriot Ledger)

Mike Prokosch takes a look at the grim stories of those being left behind by soaring housing costs in Dorchester. (Dorchester Reporter)


Was convicted felon Charles Lightbody’s involvement in a casino land deal illegal? The answer appears to be no. (CommonWealth)


A Chicago task force concludes that the police department has “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” (Time)

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera makes the rounds in Washington looking for aid for his city. (Eagle-Tribune)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has filed a bill requiring the IRS to create a free online tax preparation and filing service. (State House News Service)


As horrible as Donald Trump may be,Ted Cruz would be way worse, says Renee Graham. (Boston Globe) The US Senate delivers a stern rebuke to Cruz. (Politico)

Trump’s campaign manager will not be prosecuted for shoving a reporter. (Politico)

MassPoliticsProf’s Maurice Cunningham weighs in on the dark money spent by two super PACs in this week’s special election for state Senate in the First Suffolk and Middlesex District. CommonWealth wrote here and here about the last-minute bogus attack mailing one of them launched that appears to have violated spending disclosure law.

Top Republican officials, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire who is facing a tight reelection bid, will skip the GOP convention in Cleveland to avoid being muddied by a Trump-Cruz cage fight. (U.S. News & World Report)

A candidate for the Sandwich town clerk position is hosting a “meet and greet” for voters to get to know candidates up and down the ballot but the incumbent town clerk will not attend, calling it “wildly inappropriate” for someone running for office to hold such an event. (Cape Cod Times)


Peter Gelzinis heads to a Verizon picket line to hear from workers what’s at stake for them in the strike against the company. Just about everything, he learns. (Boston Herald)

The fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage is about basic fairness, says 1199SEIU’s Tyrek Lee Sr. (CommonWealth)

Joan Vennochi encourages GE chief Jeff Immelt to be more outspoken on public issues in Boston than most local corporate honchos, who she says have become mealy-mouthed and afraid to wade into big public debates. (Boston Globe)

Companies explore ways — foosball and flexibility are two ideas — to attract and keep millennial workers. (Berkshire Eagle)


Yvonne Abraham offers a satirical take on the great reasons an admitted student should  choose Suffolk University, starting with its utterly dysfunctional leadership battle being stoked  by ever-self-serving PR honcho George Regan. (Boston Globe) Regan tells CommonWealth: “If you’ve got a mouth, use it.”

A Berkshire Eagle editorial praises two school districts for agreeing to share a superintendent to cut costs and promote collaboration

Teachers at New Bedford’s Hayden-McFadden Elementary School will work longer school days, totaling 23 days more in the school year than their counterparts, as part of the turnaround plan for the struggling school. (Standard-Times)


A Globe editorial says public coverage plans should not limit patients’ access to expensive, but curative, treatments for hepatitis C.

WBUR has a great story on 9-year-old Dylan Siegel’s efforts to raise money for medical research that could help his best friend Jonah Pournazarian.


The MBTA has cut its overtime costs in half over the first three months of year, saving $10 million, and has also halved the number of missed bus trips. (Boston Herald)

Sen. Eric Lesser makes the case for high-speed train travel between Springfield and Boston — one-way trips that take 90 minutes is his goal. (MassLive)

West Bridgewater police ticketed 52 drivers in a texting sting. (The Enterprise)

House Republicans rejected a plea by officials from Washington’s Metro for more money to fix the embattled system, declaring Congress, which has oversight over the transit network, will “not bail you out.” (New York Times)


The Department of Public Utilities gets an earful from angry homeowners at a hearing in Dracut on the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline project. (The Sun)

A Barnstable Superior Court judge rejected a suit by Bourne officials to shut down a turbine across the town line in Plymouth. (Cape Cod Times)

The US Department of Agriculture, bolstered by the success of nearly eliminating rabies on the Cape, will set bait traps in southern Plymouth County for an oral vaccine for the animal disease. (The Enterprise)

Andover moves to a tiered water system, where residents who use more water pay higher rates for it. (Eagle-Tribune)


Quincy officials reject a bid by GateHouse Media, owner of the Patriot Ledger, for a marketing contract to bolster the city’s image, saying the proposal would create conflicts for both sides. (CommonWealth)

House Ways and Means chairman Brian Dempsey is put on the spot by MassLive’s Shira Shoenberg, who asks at yesterday’s budget briefing why a handful of select media outlets were given an advance briefing on the spending plan. (MassLive)

A new report indicates Twitter doesn’t drive much traffic for news websites. (Nieman Journalism Lab)