The Codcast: Stirring the pot over the marijuana initiative

Is legal marijuana too much too soon, putting the state imprimatur on use of a potentially addictive drug that could have unpredictable ripple effects? Or is it about time to sanction and regulate a substance that many see as no more harmful than alcohol and, in some ways, not as bad?

In November, Massachusetts voters will be asked to weigh in on a measure that would put the Bay State in the company of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska in allowing the commercial sale and recreational use of marijuana. If passed, retail pot stores could begin sprouting up on street corners where drug dealers once held sway, with tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of tax dollars flowing into state coffers.

But opponents say we’re opening up a Pandora’s box by sending the message to young people that drug use is acceptable. In addition, critics say the marketing of other THC-infused items, such as brownies, gummy bears, and oils, could be attractive to unsuspecting children who may find the drugs in their parents’ drawers and ingest them. There are also concerns about driving while high and who is behind the ballot question.

Will Luzier, a former assistant attorney general in the criminal bureau under Frank Bellotti and James Shannon, is the campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, the organization behind the ballot question. Corey Welford, former chief of staff for Attorney General Maura Healey and her predecessor, Martha Coakley, is a spokesman for the anti-legalization group Campaign for a Safe & Healthy Massachusetts. The two met face-to-face for the first time and cut through the smoke and mirrors in the latest episode of The Codcast.

–JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

The Senate passes a $39.5 billion budget. (State House News) One amendment, presumably targeting the Access Northeast natural gas pipeline proposal, would ban new pipelines within 1,000 feet of a residential neighborhood or school. (Masslive) The Senate has moved to dramatically increase oversight of nursing homes and penalties for care and safety violations at them. (Boston Globe)  Money for a full-time climatologist has been included. (Eagle-Tribune)

Beacon Hill’s hospital pricing compromise slashes funding for a state health research agency. (Masslive)

A  Herald editorial says lawmakers should trash a Senate budget rider that would ban single-use plastic bags at certain retail outlets.

The state has ruled that a communications tower on the land of the former Barnstable County House of Correction belongs to the financially strapped county, not the sheriff, and the sheriff’s office has to repay the $140,000 a year in lease payments it has collected since being put under state control in 2010. (Cape Cod Times)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The superior officers in the Framingham police department have taken a vote of “no confidence” in Police Chief Ken Ferguson and his deputies. (MetroWest Daily News)

In Charlton, the long blue line pays respects to slain Auburn policeman Ronald Tarentino Jr. (Telegram & Gazette)

Sherborn selectmen have suspended the part-time health agent who also works full-time  in Ashland and under contract in Norfolk after an Inspector General report said it cannot determine if his earnings stemmed from double-billing his time in all three towns. (MetroWest Daily News)

Hardwick and  Montague residents tell the Baker administration they don’t want Comcast building their broadband access. (Masslive)

Quincy officials have failed to reach an agreement with the owner of the Wollaston Theater to buy it or prevent him from tearing down the historic building. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A Globe editorial pans a defense spending earmark designed to benefit Boston-based New Balance as “corporate welfare.”

The US Food and Drug Administration approves an implantable medication delivery device to treat people addicted to opioids. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Donald Trump has agreed to debate Bernie Sanders — for $10 million to $15 million to go to charity. (U.S. News & World Report) That prompted this tweet from the Globe’s Adrian Walker: “If @realDonaldTrump is going to debate someone who isn’t going to be the Dem nominee, he should debate @SenWarren.”

Trump unveiled his energy plan: More fossil fuels, less regulation. (New York Times) Washington, DC, think tanks don’t know what to think about Trump’s ideologically incoherent policy positions. (Boston Globe)

Trump says he’ll win so much Americans will be sick of it, but that wasn’t the case with his venture into the airline business: The Trump Shuttle went under within three years. (Boston Globe)

A Trump-Clinton matchup in November could rejigger the electoral map, perhaps doubling the number of swing states in play. (Boston Globe)

Gary Johnson says he’s jazzed that Bill Weld is seeking to join him on the Libertarian Party ticket. (Politico) As usual, Weld’s true motivations in his latest dalliance are not easy to glean, says Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)

Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group says a joint New Hampshire-Massachusetts political primary could work. (WBUR)

The vote in Sandwich in favor of a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion for new public safety buildings was upheld after a recount that was sought by a former firefighter who is suing the town because he says he was terminated for opposing the project. (Cape Cod Times)

RELIGION

Parishioners at the former St. Frances Cabrini church in Scituate will hold a final service Sunday before ending their 11-year vigil at the shuttered church after the Supreme Court declined to hear their case to block the Boston Archdiocese from selling it. (Patriot Ledger)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Gov. Charlie Baker, on a tour of Polar Beverages in Worcester, hears that electricity in Massachusetts costs twice as much as it does in New York and Georgia where Polar operates other plants. (Masslive)

The Flower Exchange property on Albany Street in Boston’s South End could become a tech hub that developers hope will rival Kendall Square in Cambridge. (Boston Globe)

Changing consumer taste, machine manufacturing competition, and years of sanctions are threatening the future of the iconic handmade Persian rug industry. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

A group of Massachusetts education leaders is promoting the idea of a “third way” in education — bringing charter school innovations into district systems — and they are holding an event next Tuesday in Boston that will feature remarks from US Education Secretary John King. (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Military medical researchers have identified the first patient in the United States diagnosed with a superbug that is resistant to all antibiotics. (New York Times)

Two Massachusetts doctors have been suspended by the state because of improper drug prescribing practices — one related to medical marijuana prescriptions and the other for opiates. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

A Senate budget amendment would cap MBTA fare hikes at no more than 5 percent every two years — a limit some lawmakers thought they had already adopted until a dispute broke out over the wording of previously-passed measure. (Boston Globe)

New Bedford school officials hired a new transportation director after forcing the old one out following discovery of a $1 million budget deficit in the busing budget. (Standard-Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Wholesale electricity prices in New England fell by one-third in 2015. (CommonWealth)

At a listening session in Pittsfield held by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, residents focused on Kinder Morgan’s plans to run pipe through Otis State Forest and GE’s plans for the Housatonic River. (Berkshire Eagle)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The off-duty Boston police officer captured on video roughing up a pedestrian with whom he had a conflict while driving through the Back Bay has faced previous allegations of using excessive force. (Boston Globe) Mayor Marty Walsh says the video is “concerning,” but he’s waiting for findings from an internal police investigation of the incident. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Meet the Author

More news organizations decide to write internet that way rather than this way: Internet. (New York Times)

The Newspaper Association of America files a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on ad-blocking software. (Politico)