Pot sale prohibitions spread

Voters approved recreational marijuana last November, but is it possible that buying pot won’t be that easy?

Foxboro on Monday night became the latest town to ban recreational marijuana growing and  sales facilities. The Foxboro vote follows on the heels of similar actions in several other communities, including Westborough and Southborough. Officials in many other cities and towns are opposed to pot establishments, but so far they haven’t taken any official action because the state’s voter-approved pot law requires an expensive town-wide referendum.

That may change, however. Lawmakers delayed and are now preparing to amend the voter-approved marijuana law, and they are being pressured to make it easier for cities and towns to bar marijuana establishments within their borders. One option under consideration is to allow municipal governing bodies to make the decision rather than voters.

There is a tendency in Massachusetts to move slowly when it comes to marijuana, partly because pot use remains a crime under federal law. Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana five years ago, but there are only 10 licensed dispensaries across the state, with more than 200 applications pending. Under the voter-approved pot law, medical marijuana dispensaries could sell recreational pot once that law takes effect.

The state’s eleventh medical marijuana dispensary just got a green light from the Holyoke City Council. The council voted unanimously to approve a permit for a company called GTI Massachusetts to cultivate and process medical marijuana on the second floor of an old mill building. Even councilors opposed to marijuana voted in favor of the permit because of the jobs and other economic benefits offered by the facility. The permit would not allow the facility to sell recreational marijuana, but that approval could come later.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is one of the few municipal officials in the state who has been welcoming to the pot industry. “In a climate where it seems many city and towns are reluctant to embrace the industry and some are even outwardly hostile to the industry, I think it’s important to distinguish our city as a place that, if people want to have that conversation, we want to have that conversation,” Morse said.

–BRUCE MOHL


 

BEACON HILL

Anthony Virgilio, who was charged in 2015 with driving under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, refusing to identify himself to an officer, and resisting arrest, was hired by the Baker administration for a newly-created $72,000-a-year state job whose duties, the Boston Globe reports, include “identifying workplace hazards and assessing risks to health and safety, recommending accident prevention and workplace safety, and implementing safety controls.”  Virgilio is the son of big donors to Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Optometrists say a new study indicates they could save the state $20 million if they were allowed to treat glaucoma and eye infections. (State House News)

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson  will go before legislators today to defend his proposals to use inmates to help build President Trump’s border wall as well as his planned partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on detaining illegal immigrants. (Herald News) Hodgson joined state Rep. Antonio Cabral of New Bedford, a nemesis of the sheriff who has filed a bill to designate Massachusetts a “sanctuary state,” to debate the immigration issue. (Greater Boston)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Opponents of a sanctuary city ordinance in Salem succeed in gathering enough signatures to put the issue to voters. The ordinance was approved 7-4 at the end of March by the City Council. (Salem News) State Rep. Paul Tucker of Salem urges civility as the debate heats up. (Salem News) Revere debates the proposed sanctuary state law. (WBUR)

Worcester spent $6.8 million dealing with snow and ice this past winter, $2.6 million more than the city budgeted for the job. (Telegram & Gazette)

A say-no-to-Muslims anonymous letter targeting a Pakistani-born candidate for the Board of Selectmen in Shrewsbury showed up in mailboxes in advance of the election. An estimated 20 percent of the town’s population is foreign-born, the most from India. (Telegram & Gazette)

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has ratcheted up his feud with the Fall River Office of Economic Development, officially ordering the privately funded organization to vacate its City Hall offices. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by President Trump for not defending his travel ban, said she warned the administration that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised” and subject to blackmail by the Russians. (New York Times) A Herald editorial says Yates “deserves a medal” for her truth-telling to the new Trump administration in service to the country’s national security.

FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress that Huma Abedin forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton to her husband’s computer was inaccurate. (ProPublica)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appoints a 13-member committee that is all-white and all-male to draw up a new health care reform bill. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Former US senator Scott Brown makes a fundraising plea on behalf of a conservative political action committee that in the same pitch attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is backing Brown’s nomination as ambassador to New Zealand. (CommonWealth)

Backers of the ballot question to change Framingham from a town to a city outspent opponents 9-to-1 leading up to the election. (MetroWest Daily News)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tunes up some reelection campaign talking points in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A new study by Fidelity Charitable finds a generational divide in how women give, with millennials more apt to be impulsive with their donations and wishing they did more while boomers are more likely to be strategic and more satisfied with their level of charity. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

EDUCATION

Michael Jonas reports on a panel discussion that revisited the battle last fall over Question 2, which ended with charter school expansion being clobbered. (CommonWealth)

Easthampton school officials have temporarily banned a student from wearing a sweatshirt bearing the Confederate flag to school; the school committee plans to take up the issue tonight. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Black Harvard students plan a separate commencement celebration in addition to the main campus event. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new drug to treat multiple sclerosis is good news for patients — and may be bad news for Cambridge-based Biogen and its blockbuster treatment for the disease. (Boston Globe)

Jimmy Kimmel hits back at some of the critics of his emotional appeal on health care. (Time)

TRANSPORTATION

Department of Transportation officials have been warning the Greenway Conservancy it can’t count on continued DOT funding, so they were surprised when the nonprofit’s plan for weaning itself off of state aid called for 10 more years of state aid. (CommonWealth)

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack takes issue with the backers of the North-South Rail Link, saying the link and expansion of South Station are not incompatible. (CommonWealth)

For the first time since January, Keolis Commuter Services last week managed to have the required number of locomotives every day. On the passenger coach front, the news was not as good. (CommonWealth)

Cancellations plaguing the commuter rail’s Fairmount Line, which serves predominantly low-income and minority communities, did not amount to civil rights violations, the feds rule, because so many lines suffered from bad service. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Environmental Protection Agency has averted a threatened suit by by local groups and set target nitrogen levels for the Westport River, which has sections that have been polluted by sewage runoff. (Standard-Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The suspect in Friday’s killing of two doctors in their South Boston condo had previously worked as a security guard at the luxury building. (Boston Globe) Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley ripped media outlets and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans for reporting false information in the immediate aftermath of the homicides. (Boston Herald)

The slain doctors were two of four people killed in Boston on Friday night, a fact that would be easy to miss given how little media attention has been given to the stabbing death in Roxbury of 18-year-old Servulo Galvao-Antunes and fatal shooting in Mattapan of 25-year-old Antwan Stevenson. (Boston Globe)

A Haverhill man receives a sentence of 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to selling oxycodone pills and cocaine in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. (Eagle-Tribune)

MEDIA

Many parts of the country are a news desert, if you assume the absence of a print newspaper yields desert-like conditions. A “news map” of the country includes a comment from Peter Kadzis, a former staffer at the Boston Phoenix, which closed in 2013, who said the absence of the alternative newspaper means fewer social justice, political, and investigative stories. (Columbia Journalism Review)