On weed, let’s stick to the facts

Facts are in short supply in the increasingly polarized debate over legalizing marijuana, which is why Jack Sullivan’s piece today in CommonWealth is refreshing. The article suggests the inability of law enforcement officials to test for marijuana impairment is a real problem, but also points to studies indicating a marijuana high isn’t the same as an alcohol buzz.

Unlike alcohol, which dissipates in a person’s system within hours, Sullivan reports that marijuana can stay in the blood for days, even weeks, making it difficult to distinguish between someone who is high today and someone who was high three days ago.

Citing two studies, neither of which are recent, Sullivan also points out that marijuana affects users differently than alcohol. One 2010 Yale study said marijuana-intoxicated drivers showed only modest impairments on actual road tests. “Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol,” the study said.

While most coverage of the marijuana issue has focused on attacks or pronouncements from one side or the other, there are a handful of useful, fairly neutral sources of information. A special Senate committee’s report on marijuana is one example.

Alcohol is a recurring theme in the debate over marijuana legalization. Because it’s been around for so long, alcohol is a convenient reference point for discussing marijuana. But it’s also an elephant in the room, and an elephant that can be ridden two ways.

Proponents of legalizing marijuana suggest opponents can’t condone alcohol consumption while condemning the use of weed. But others point out that two wrongs don’t necessarily make a right. “The last thing we need is an official stamp of approval for another potential gateway to substance abuse,” the Lowell Sun says in an editorial.




A proposal by Gov. Charlie Baker would allow the state to recover nursing home costs from estates of patients whose stays were paid for by MassHealth. (Cape Cod Times)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, in a wide-ranging interview that touched on a number of subjects, says his delay in pushing through the transgender rights bill is to ensure support in case of a Baker veto. (Keller@Large)

Another case of an inmate death at Bridgewater State Hospital prompts questions and anger from advocates over the Legislature’s failure to follow through on a Patrick administration proposal two years ago to revamp the troubled facility. (Boston Globe)

Michael Widmer analyzes GE’s move to Boston and the respective roles of tax breaks and social investments in that move. (CommonWealth)

Democratic mayors are big fans of Baker and his focus on local, nitty-gritty issues. (Salem News)

Deirdre Cummings and Martin Dagoberto urge the Legislature to pass the GMO labeling bill. (CommonWealth)


James Sutherland and James Chisholm say a move to four-year terms for Boston city councilors would lead to more competitive races, a larger, more diverse electorate choosing council betters, and more thoughtful proposals from councilors. (CommonWealth)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson says the Notre Dame church in Worcester can no longer be saved and should be torn down to pave the way for downtown redevelopment. Meanwhile, the 216-year-old Stearns tavern is being prepped for moving — and saving. (MassLive)

A bust of the late representative Anthony Scibelli is stolen from an outdoor Springfield memorial. (MassLive)

With a sharp rise of people ignoring handicapped parking signs, Middleboro Town Meeting voters are considering a proposal to triple fines for parking violations in the restricted zones. (The Enterprise)


Kim Sinatra of Wynn Resorts pushes back against the notion that a convicted felon’s role in a real estate deal with the casino operator wouldn’t have been a problem. Testifying in federal court, she also doesn’t recall telling the landowners she would sue them “back to the stone age” if they didn’t agree to cut their sale price from $75 million to $35 million. (CommonWealth)

During her testimony, Sinatra said each room of the proposed Wynn Resorts hotel will cost $1 million to build. The cost is three times the median price of a single-family home in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)


The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided during oral arguments Monday over President Obama’s immigration plan, which is being challenged by 26 states. (New York Times)

Awkward: Joan Vennochi considers President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia just as the two candidates seeking his party’s presidential nomination sign on to legislation that would let 9/11 victims sue the Islamic theocracy. (Boston Globe)

Governments across the US are struggling to root out fake minority contractors. (Governing)


The Republican National Convention delegate selection in Massachusetts is not over just because primary voters went to the polls more than a month ago — and that could be bad news for Donald Trump. (Boston Globe)

The National Review points out that Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose recently released 2014 tax forms show he paid an effective rate of 13.5 percent, would not have been able to take many of the deductions he claimed under his own tax plan.


Gas prices in Massachusetts rose for the seventh consecutive week. (Associated Press) CommonWealth’s Spring issue had a piece on the benefits state and local governments enjoyed during the two-year slide in fuel prices.

Devens is being considered as a testing facility for self-driving cars. (The Sun)

A European court decision intended to neutralize Google’s internet reach has instead made the company one of the most powerful forces in policing web users in those countries. (New York Times)


A Herald editorial sees little room for compromise on charter school legislation, especially after Sen. Marc Pacheco’s comment that any House tinkering with a Senate-passed bill would render the measure dead. Here is CommonWealth’s account of the Senate debate, which seemed to run off the rails when an amendment was added that could stop charter growth in its tracks.

Despite the infighting and chaos, Margaret McKenna, the president of Suffolk University, offers a reassuring tone about the future of the school in a letter to the editor of the Globe.

U.S. News & World Report releases its list of the top high schools in the country and while Massachusetts didn’t place any in the top 10, the state ranked fifth in the total number of nationally ranked schools.


It’s not only public payers that are balking at covering high-cost treatment for hepatitis C; private insurers are doing so as well. (Boston Globe)


The MBTA says it will look to fine Amtrak for any future disruptions caused by the rail carrier’s shaky signal system at South Station, which delayed or cancelled 40 commuter rail trips on Sunday. (Boston Globe)

Politico looks at Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack’s first year on the job — and the move from advocate to administrator.


A Berkshire Eagle editorial laments how a good solar project is done in by NIMBYism.

Quincy officials and scores of homeowners still paying flood insurance are frustrated that FEMA has still not released revised flood insurance maps more than two years after the city challenged the original ones. (Patriot Ledger)

Massachusetts beekeepers who are seeing mass die-offs say state regulations on pesticide use need to be strengthened to restrict when and how the chemicals can be used. (The Enterprise)


Big congratulations! The Boston Globe wins two Pulitzer prizes, one for commentary by Farah Stockman and the other for photography by Jessica Rinaldi. (Associated Press) Here’s the rundown from the Pulitzer site. Here is Stockman’s award-winning series. (Boston Globe)

The Denver Post tells reporters they are required to write at least one and possibly more stories every day they are at work. (Columbia Journalism Review)