Hoffman’s abrupt exit at cannabis commission remains a mystery
The Cannabis Control Commission is at an inflection point, with all five of the state’s original marijuana regulators having moved on. “Today marks a significant moment for all of us as the five inaugural commissioners have now departed the CCC,” said Commissioner Ava Concepcion at the start of a virtual public commission meeting on Thursday.
But the final piece of that shift – the departure of Chairman Steven Hoffman – remains mysterious. When each prior commissioner departed, the commission announced it with a press release and sometimes a media interview, and the departing member was honored with a public sendoff at their final meeting.
Hoffman resigned April 25, a few months before his term ended, and his resignation only became public May 2 when Boston Globe cannabis reporter Dan Adams discovered it. Hoffman, who during his tenure was generally very accessible to the media, issued a statement to the Globe saying the commission reached “a natural inflection point when the time is right for a transition in leadership.”
Hoffman has not spoken since then about his decision to leave when he did. Several current commissioners said they learned of Hoffman’s resignation the day Hoffman submitted his resignation letter.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s meeting, none of the commissioners would provide any insight on Hoffman’s departure. “He’s in the best position to talk about his departure,” Kim said.
Concepcion said it was “not completely surprising” since Hoffman had been up front about nearing the end of his tenure.
“It was his decision, I really don’t want to speculate as to why he made it,” said Commissioner Bruce Stebbins. Stebbins said the delay in announcing Hoffman’s departure publicly let the commissioners talk to staff and alert the Cannabis Advisory Board. “I think it was the appropriate protocol,” he said.
“I think that every commissioner has left in their own way at their own time,” said Commissioner Nurys Camargo. “I wish him the best. I’m sure it was hard for him, but we all deserve our lives.”
In public opening statements, each commissioner thanked Hoffman and the other inaugural members for laying the groundwork for the state’s legal cannabis industry, while acknowledging that this is a clear transition point. The first commissioners built an agency and industry from the ground up. Now, retail shops are up and running. The new commissioners have other challenges: improving participation of Black and Latino entrepreneurs, developing the nascent delivery industry, and authorizing social consumption facilities, like marijuana cafes. They have developed a new strategy for legislative engagement, becoming more vocal in lobbying. They will engage in another regulatory review in 2023.
“At the beginning, it seemed that the commission was really focused on creating the commission and creating this legal industry,” Concepcion said. “Now we can reflect on the work that was done, figure out what worked, figure out what needs tweaking.”
Camargo said she intends to “stick to tradition” in continuing the work of the inaugural commission. She said it’s too early to know how this commission will be different from the first one. “Time will tell,” she said.
MBTA safety disconnect: Travis McCready, a member of the MBTA’s oversight board, questions whether all the people being hired for safety positions are actually improving safety. “While I appreciate the data points in terms of the number of positions we’re adding, can you reflect a little bit about the disconnect between the number of safety positions we’re adding and what seems to be our safety outcomes?” he asked. Read more.
Blue Line reopening delayed again: A tool cart derailment postpones the reopening of the Blue Line a second time as MBTA officials refuse to provide details about what’s gone wrong and who is being held responsible for problems laying 1,800 feet of new track. Read more.
Soldiers’ Home settlement: Massachusetts agrees to pay $56 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by veterans who contracted COVID and the families of veterans who died from COVID at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in 2020.
– An attorney representing the plaintiffs calls the settlement “extremely fair” and Gov. Charlie Baker said he hopes it brings closure to the affected families. Read more.
Energy shift: A Japanese company buys the three oil and gas-fired power plants along the Cape Cod Canal and wants to use that facility primarily as a conduit for moving electricity from offshore wind farms on to the region’s power grid. Read more.
Formula shortage: Steven Abrams, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Austin, explains why we’re having an infant formula shortage and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu unveils a $2 billion plan to rebuild Boston’s schools over the course of a decade, with construction slated to start on some buildings in July. (GBH)
The Brockton City Council rescinded a 2019 ordinance that banned panhandling in the wake of a 2020 Supreme Judicial Court ruling that a similar law in Fall River was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. (The Enterprise)
Beverly Hospital plans to permanently close North Shore Birth Center, where women can give birth without medication with the help of midwives, because of a midwife staffing shortage. (Salem News)
The House select committee on the January 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenas five Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (NPR)
Elon Musk says his takeover bid for Twitter is “on hold,” because he wants to know what share of users are actually spam and fake accounts. (New York Times)
A Mattapan mother is questioning why her 17-year-old son’s Boston public school delayed calling an ambulance when he developed symptoms that wound up being diagnosed as a stroke. (Boston Globe)
UMass Amherst researchers were part of a worldwide scientific effort to photograph a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A filmmaking student makes a short documentary about the case of missing Hanson resident Sandra Crispo, a mother and grandmother who disappeared in 2019. (Patriot Ledger)
Members of the Westfield Historical Commission believe they have found the remnants of an armory belonging to a blacksmith who made guns for General George Washington during the American Revolution. (MassLive)
Gov. Charlie Baker said he welcomes the Federal Transit Administration’s safety review of the MBTA. (Boston Globe)
An AAA survey finds that gas prices are getting high enough that people will change their travel patterns. (WickedLocal)
Researchers say female-endangered North Atlantic right whales are getting smaller, further endangering the species because they then produce fewer calves. (Boston Globe)
The Suffolk DA’s office, Boston police, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms unveil a new plan to target gun trafficking. (Boston Globe)
A former music teacher at Julia Bancroft Elementary School in Auburn is found guilty of raping a fifth grade girl. (Telegram & Gazette)
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office indicates it will appeal a judge’s ruling dismissing manslaughter charges against two Adams foster parents in connection with the death of an infant. The judge tossed the charges, calling the DA’s case “circumstantial and not particularly strong.” (Berkshire Eagle)
William Allen walks out of prison after serving 28 years of a life sentence. (WBUR)
Dan Kennedy takes a look at Gannett’s new Medford/Somerville weekly and doesn’t like what he sees. (Media Nation)PASSINGS
Gino Cappelletti, a former New England Patriots player, coach, and broadcaster, at 89. (WBUR)