The Cannabis Control Commission met for the first time on Monday, and two of the five members refused to say whether they had ever smoked pot.
Commissioners Jennifer Flanagan, a former state senator, and Shaleen Title, who worked on the ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana, declined to say whether they had used marijuana. Britte McBride, an attorney, and Kay Doyle, the former deputy general counsel at the Department of Public Health, said they last used pot in college. The commission chairman, Steven Hoffman, said last week he used marijuana in high school and college and tried it again on a visit to Colorado last year.
Some might argue past pot use is a private, not a public, issue. But voting is also a private issue, and yet all five members disclosed how they voted on the ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana. (Four voted no; one, Title, voted yes.)
The context for asking these questions is important. Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug under federal law and creating a marijuana industry in Massachusetts won’t be easy. A case can be made that voters have a right to know what the commissioners regulating the industry think about pot, and whether they have any personal experience with the substance they are regulating.
The commission members were appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. All three pols opposed the ballot question, and Baker and Healey have raised major concerns about the drug. In an op-ed they coauthored with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in March 2016, Baker and Healey concluded that “marijuana is not safe.” Baker also joined opponents of legalization in July 2016 at a press conference that focused heavily on how pot is a gateway drug that often leads to opioid addiction.
There is no evidence the politicians are now trying to thwart the will of the voters. Indeed, aides to Walsh, one of the leading opponents of the ballot question, say the mayor is now putting out the welcome mat for pot shops and comparing marijuana to alcohol in terms of its social and commercial impact. Still, stacking the Cannabis Control Commission with opponents of the ballot question raised concerns about the direction in which the agency was headed.
The best way for the commissioners to address those concerns is to put all their cards on the table so voters can know where they are coming from. Hoffman did just that when he met with the press last week. He not only detailed his past use of pot but offered his personal view of the drug’s potential impact on society.
“I personally believe marijuana is a harmless drug,” he said. “Just like alcohol, which can be overused and abused, I think it should be kept away from minors.”
The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance issued the largest fine in state history to a New York education group for attempting to conceal the names of donors to what turned out to be a failed effort to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Two high-ranking Baker administration officials were among the donors. (State House News)
A Boston Herald editorial urged the House to resist calls by members for veto overrides to fund favored projects, saying the state’s budget picture remains too shaky to add more spending.
Uxbridge selectmen voted 3-2 to sign a letter of non-opposition to a medical marijuana cultivation facility. (Telegram & Gazette)
Great Barrington can’t find a buyer for the former Housatonic School building, but a construction firm has offered to partner with the city on renovating the rundown structure to provide affordable housing and shared office space. (Berkshire Eagle)
Jafet Robles, a well-known community organizer in Springfield, was found dead from a gunshot wound at Szot Park in Chicopee. (MassLive)
After nearly 20 years of payments on a loan Quincy officials co-signed for a Greek company that went bankrupt after promising to bring Quincy Shipyard back to life, the debt finally has been paid off and officials will use the freed up money to begin repairing roads. (Patriot Ledger)
Brockton city workers were left to clean up an historic playground after an unpermitted party and parade left the park strewn with trash and garbage. (The Enterprise)
In the wake of a 4-year-old boy drowning last month in a pool at a Falmouth resort, town officials are considering enhanced safety regulations for large pools at hotels, motels, and resorts. (Cape Cod Times)
Acting US Attorney William Weinreb may have lost his bid to hold on to the job permanently because of past donations to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. The appointment went to Andrew Lelling, a registered Republican who backed Ted Cruz in the last presidential election. (Eagle-Tribune)
Joanna Weiss finds not much to like in Hillary Clinton’s new account of her loss, What Happened. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial deplores her book tour, which it calls a “nationwide whine-a-thon blaming just about everyone but herself for losing the 2016 election.” Joan Vennochi comes to Clinton’s defense and says she can’t win, even when she offers a balanced account of how she was done in by outside forces while also making plenty of mistakes of her own. (Boston Globe)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is raising questions about President Trump’s nominee to be secretary of the Army, a decorated veteran who has spent the last seven years as the top lobbyist for mega-defense contractor Raytheon. (Boston Globe)
Ted Cruz’s official Twitter account likes a porno video, but aides say it was all a mistake. (Daily News)
MassINC Polling Group President Steve Koczela writes in an oped for CNN that the voter integrity commission is undermining voter confidence as much as the fraud it claims to be searching for.
Gov. Charlie Baker has raised more than $10 million for the reelection bid he has not yet officially announced. (Boston Globe)
Fall River city councilors are debating including “pro/con” statements on the November ballot to accompany the question on changing the city’s charter despite an opinion from the secretary of state’s office that such a move would be illegal. (Herald News)
The chatter is growing over whether Mitt Romney will run for Senate in Utah if veteran senator Orrin Hatch decides to retire next year. (Boston Globe) Joe Battenfeld likes the idea of Sen. Mitt. (Boston Herald)
Teamsters Local 25 president Sean O’Brien says he’s considering challenging International Teamsters president James Hoffa for the union’s top post. (Boston Herald)
U.S. News & World Report is out with its newest “Best Colleges” rankings, with Harvard holding down the number 2 spot overall behind Princeton University and Williams College and Amherst College ranked first and second respectively for the top liberal arts colleges.
Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun has matched a $500,000 award the university received in recognition of his leadership strength with a $500,000 donation of his own money to the school. (Boston Globe)
Middlesex College plans to build a biotech facility in one of its Lowell buildings. (Lowell Sun)
The Amherst College campus is roiled by an anti-war banner hung from a building on 9/11 honoring “those killed and displaced by America’s so-called ‘war on terror.’” (Boston Herald)
A would-be Berklee College of Music student, who says she wasn’t able to attend the Boston school because the financial aid package it offered was far too small, gets assurance she’ll get her $1,000 deposit back a day after after Globe consumer columnist Sean Murphy contacted the school.
UMass Memorial Health Care plans to spend $700 million on a new records system. (MassLive)
Congress has rejected President Trump’s plan to cut health research funding. (New York Times)
Millennium Partners said it will cut the height of its proposed Winthrop Square tower in Boston by at least 73 feet to avoid disrupting takeoffs at Logan International Airport. (CommonWealth) The move comes one day after Jim Aloisi raised concerns that the building’s height would result in more air traffic over East Boston and other communities near the airport and more than 10 days after the Federal Aviation Administration informed Millennium that its 775-foot tower was a navigational hazard.
The MBTA launches another privatization initiative, plus news on the Green Line extension, a Tobin Bridge rehab, and more. (CommonWealth)
The MBTA plans to issue $574 million in new bonds to help pay for capital improvements at the transit authority. (CommonWealth)
A Globe editorial says the state has been too slow in adopting recommendations to deal with damaging hurricanes, which are more likely with climate change.
Tennessee has taken the politics out of renewable energy. (Governing)
A judge orders an October 30 hearing on Orion Krause’s mental competency to stand trial for murder. He is being held without bail at Bridgewater State Hospital after being charged with bludgeoning to death his mother, grandparents, and a caretaker at his grandparents’ Groton home. (Boston Herald)
Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley describes the rape and murder of Jennifer O’Connor last February in Peabody as a case of “pure evil.” (Salem News)
A Worcester dentist is found not guilty of sexually assaulting a patient during a dental procedure. (Telegram & Gazette)
Politico editor Sudeep Reddy said many job applicants there are turned down if it’s discovered they have written inappropriate or partisan tweets. (Washington Post)