Globe all in on pot

It’s a small thing that few would initially notice but it says something loud.

On the Boston Globe‘s home page, just below the paper’s logo, is a list of categories like most news sites have to direct readers to sections of interest. There, among Metro, Sports, and Politics, wedged between Lifestyle and Arts, is the newest focus – Marijuana.

The dedication of a category to the nascent industry says New England’s highest profile media outlet is taking the expected billion-dollar marijuana business seriously and is all in.

For sure, the Globe is not the only one covering the emerging cannabis industry. Outlets such as Boston Business Journal, WBUR, Mass Live, The Dig, and State House News Service, as well as us here at CommonWealth, are at nearly every meeting of the state Cannabis Control Commission. And there are plenty of stories about soon-to-be open retail stores and interviews with principals in those endeavors.

Adams has a weekly newsletter, This Week in Weed, that goes out every Saturday wrapping up local and national coverage of marijuana issues and has now become a staple in the paper and on the home page. The name of the newsletter, using the slang for the herb, is somewhat counter to how the Globe has been covering the industry.But the Globe has turned its coverage up to high. The paper has reporter Dan Adams, who combines the zeal of an advocate with his blanket coverage, dedicated to the beat. They are also looking to hire a second reporter for the beat.

Early on, just after voters first passed the referendum in 2016, the Globe had one of its reporters hit the streets in search of pot now that it was legal. It was a droll approach that runs counter to the treatment of the industry today. In addition to the macro Marijuana category, the paper runs a national column called “Marijuana Moment,” which is a summary of weekly stories around the country by legalization advocate Tom Angell. The Globe runs a disclaimer with the column that “the views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe‘s views on any subject area.” But given the paper’s approach, you’d be hard-pressed to see the difference.

The recent coverage reflects the seriousness with which advocates bring to the issue and its potential for millions in revenues to the state coffers and millions more to the economy. It’s not an approach shared by all, though. The Boston Herald often takes a decidedly tabloid approach, with Friday’s front page a case in point. “As legal pot sales loom, feds tell Bay State… DON’T DRIVE ‘BAKED.'”

It was a piece that quoted a high-ranking federal transportation official who warned about the dangers of drugged driving. But her quote of “Friends don’t let friends drive baked,” was tabloid gold and reflects a longstanding perception of marijuana use aptly summed up in words like “baked” and “stoned.”

The Herald has been doing stories on legal marijuana but much of the coverage has been on the fallout of use, such as studies showing an increase in accidents in states that have legalized marijuana, the lack of a scientific test to show marijuana impairment while driving, and the potential increase in insurance rates.

But as the state’s first retail store is set to open in either Leicester or Northampton – or both – within days, the Globe has launched all ships. The Globe sent out a reporter and photographer to Leicesterfor a story in Friday’s paper to talk with public safety officials, business people, and residents about the impending launch of a retail store by Cultivate, a medical marijuana dispensary on Route 9. It was just one week after another reporter and photographer went into Cultivate and did a photo shoot and short story about the state’s expected first legal retail outlet. Adams also had a Q&A for those who may not know how to buy marijuana but are interested. They are clearly trying to cultivate an audience.

But the coverage may be ahead of its readership. Just before the election, the paper launched a feature where it said, “Each week on our marijuana page, we’ll feature a question facing readers and marijuana consumers in their community.” The first installment asked readers to weigh in on how important a candidate’s position on marijuana is in deciding to cast their vote. The piece had three responses. The Globe has not run another question yet.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

The Department of Conservation and Recreationis hiring a debt collection agency to recoup unpaid rents on state land. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration will start unveiling an initiative to control drug prices in January, but he declined to provide specifics. (MassLive) Even without specifics, a debate is already starting, with Baker aide Marylou Sudders making the case for reining in pharmaceutical costs and William Smith of the Pioneer Institute saying the administration is headed in the wrong direction.

Second-term Charlie will be a lot like first-term Charlie, says Charlie. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Milford Police Chief Thomas O’Loughlin has filed suit against the town and two selectmen who voted not to renew his contract, saying the board doesn’t have the authority to make that decision and it was politically motivated. (MetroWest Daily News)

Officials in Leicester are bracing for the small Worcester County town to become one of the two communities east of the Mississippi with a retail pot shop. (Boston Globe)

Residents of Quincy‘s Houghs Neck neighborhood have filed suit against a popular local restaurantand the city claiming officials’ decision to allow the eatery to sell off a parking lot across the street violates zoning laws requiring restaurants to provide parking. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden ends up defeating incumbent Republican US Rep. Bruce Poliquin in a contested ranked-choice voting election for Congress. Poliquin won more first-choice votes in the initial count of ballots, but he didn’t win a majority, so the second choices of two independent candidates in the race were tallied and Golden won. Poliquin is threatening to sue. (Bangor Daily News)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial praised the first two appointments of Andrea Harrington, the district attorney-elect in Berkshire County. Harrington appointed an assistant DA from Hampden County as her top assistant and tapped Francis Spina, a retired justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, to lead her transition. By the way, the Eagle supported Harrington’s opponent in the election.

The taut Florida Senate race is heading for a manual recount while the contest for governor appears to be settled, with Republican Ron DeSantis winning by a margin of four-tenths of a percent. (Washington Post)

Federal prosecutors, in a filing in an unrelated case, revealed an indictment is pending or has been filed against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. (New York Times)

Don’t be surprised if Sen. Ed Markey faces a Democratic primary challenger in 2020, saysJoe Battenfeld. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Of the 250 people who participated in a mortgage down payment program that gave low- and middle-income buyers $20,000 toward the purchase, more people picked Brockton than any of the other eligible 150 towns town between Lowell and the Cape. (The Enterprise)

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo sees a silver lining in Amazon’s decision not to locate another headquarters at Suffolk Downs. (Daily Item)

Don’t count your Chick-fil-As: Boloco says abandoning its Copley Square location where Chick-fil-A— effectively banned from Boston under the Menino reign — said it will open its first outlet in the city is not yet a done deal. (Boston Herald)

RELIGION

A group of residents in Fall River is seeking to preserve the iconic St. Anne’s Church, slated for closure, and has appealed to the Fall River Diocese to reconsider the decision to shutter the church that requires millions in repairs and has seen a shrinking congregation. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Maloney interviews Oprah Winfrey at an event that raised $1.5 million for student scholarships, a sum that was matched by Winfrey at the end of her talk, bringing the total to $3 million. (Lowell Sun)

Seven current and former students at Dartmouth College filed suit against the school over sexual assault allegations concerning three male former faculty members. (Boston Globe)

A student-created Instagram page devoted to sexual assaults at Holy Cross is attracting a lot of attention — and praise from the college. (Telegram & Gazette)

Kewan Platt, the Fitchburg State basketball player who struck a Nichols College opponent who had just sunk a three-point shot, apologizes, saying he “lost control.” (MassLive)

Merrimack College in North Andover is considering tighter control over its social media accounts after a student worker at the campus library posted a link to information about “decolonizing Thanksgiving” on Facebook. (Eagle-Tribune)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The NFL has awarded Boston Children’s Hospital a $14.7 million grant to study head injuries. (Boston Globe)

Partners HealthCare and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care have ended merger talks, which the Partners CEO said were proving to be too complicated in the current era of heightened scrutiny of health care consolidation moves. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Marc Ebuña, the co-founder and president of TransitMatters, is leaving the transportation advocacy group to work for Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the commuter rail system for the MBTA. (CommonWealth)

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez have agreed to put off for as long a year a decision about a $32,000 bonus for Ramirez. (MassLive)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Federal investigators say a the Merrimack Valley gas explosions can be traced to errors by a Columbia Gas engineer who disconnected a pressure sensor. (Boston Globe)

Officials at Pilgrim nuclear power plant downgraded a to-do list of about 500 tasks in order to clear a backlog but a report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said a random sampling shows many of those tasks should have retained their high priority status. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

Gambling revenues were down in October at both MGM in Springfield and the Plainridge Park slots parlor in Plainville. (State House News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The payroll records of Dana Pullman, the former head of the State Police union, are part of a federal investigation, according to State Police officials who declined to release the records in response to a public records request. (MassLive)

The ACLU of Massachusetts filed suit to force the Boston Police Department to release information its sharing of information on suspected gang members with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. (Boston Globe)

Here’s a fun exercise: The National Review runs a column of what readers would order for their “Death Row meals.”

MEDIA

First the Boston Herald announced it was moving to Braintree. And now the Patriot Ledger, after three decades in a Quincy office park, is moving next door to Braintree. (Boston Globe)