Outsider’s perspective on pot legalization

When you’re struggling with a decision, sometimes it’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes on Sunday reported on marijuana legalization, which is on the ballot this year in California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, and Nevada. If legalization passes in all five states, nearly a quarter of the nation’s residents will be able to buy marijuana legally for recreational use.

The 60 Minutes report, by Dr. Jon LaPook, focuses on Colorado, and specifically the county of Pueblo, which LaPook describes as the Napa Valley of cannabis. Marijuana legalization has brought 1,300 jobs, 60 businesses, and millions of dollars in investment to Pueblo. Colorado also appears to be keeping a close eye on the business, with cameras monitoring grow areas and plants individually tagged with radio frequency tags.

But despite all these pluses, Pueblo has a measure on its ballot to ban the production and sale of recreational pot in the county. Dr. Steven Simerville, medical director of the newborn intensive care unit at the local hospital, says 27 babies born at the hospital in the first nine months of this year tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In the first 10 months, 71 teenagers came into the hospital and tested positive for THC.

Law enforcement officials are also troubled by marijuana, saying there’s no way right now to test drivers for driving under the influence. They are also worried about outsiders coming into the area and growing marijuana for out-of-state distribution. “The black market is alive and well and thriving,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor. “In fact, it’s exploding.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper originally opposed marijuana legalization and is now trying to make it work. He says the law has brought in $141 million in tax revenue last year and brought a black market business into the light of day. “No one can argue that the old system wasn’t a disaster,” he said.

Hickenlooper’s advice for other states considering legalization is to start gathering baseline data now to track what’s happening with newborns, teens, and others. He says he would tell other states to exercise caution on legalizing marijuana.

“My recommendation has been that they should go slowly and probably wait a couple of years,” he said. “And let’s make sure that we get some good vertical studies to make sure that there isn’t a dramatic increase in teenage usage, that there isn’t a significant increase in abuse while driving. We don’t see it yet, but the data are not perfect. And we don’t have enough data yet to make that decision.”



Hingham selectmen approved a 220-unit Chapter 40B proposal, saying the planned complex should allow the town to meet the state’s “safe harbor” mandate for affordable housing. (Patriot Ledger)


Members of the Boston-based Thornton Law Firm give money to Washington politicians and then receive “bonuses” of equal amounts from the law firm. The practice would appear to violate campaign finance laws, but the firm says the bonuses were merely drawdowns on their equity in the firm. New Hampshire US Senate candidate Maggie Hassan says she plans to return donations she received from the law firm. (Boston Globe/Center for Responsive Politics)

Three weeks after she disappeared, a Vermont teen shows up unharmed and claims she has been sleeping alone in the woods. The problem is she didn’t look like she had been sleeping in the woods for three weeks. (Masslive)

Blocked by Congress, the Obama administration has implemented its own limits on guns. (Eagle-Tribune)

Iceland’s prime minister resigned after the insurgent Pirate Party came in second in elections for the country’s Parliament. (New York Times) Of note, in this country, the Pirate Party has just one candidate on any state ballot, Aaron James, running for state representative in Somerville. (U.S. News & World Report)


The Justice Department obtained a warrant over the weekend to begin looking at the emails that were discovered during the sexting investigation of former congressman Anthony Weiner that have upended the presidential election. (New York Times)

FBI Director James Comey is under fire over accusations he violated long-standing tradition by inserting the bureau into partisan politics and notified Congress of the new development in spite of opposition in both the FBI and the Justice Department. (Washington Post)

More than 21 million people have cast ballots in early voting around the country with Democrats having an edge in turnout so far, a development that could mitigate some of the damage from the fallout of the email investigation for Hillary Clinton. (New York Times) “Big league” or “bigly”? Donald Trump said it’s the former when he uses the superlative. (Business Insider)

James Aloisi traces the migration of American politics using the ever-changing electoral map. Last in his series on the presidential race. (CommonWealth)

Many charter schools in Massachusetts lag in enrolling students lacking English fluency. (Boston Globe)

Spending on the four ballot questions in Massachusetts has topped $33 million with Question 2, the referendum on the charter school cap, accounting for 80 percent of spending. (Wicked Local) The Salem News urges a yes vote on Question 2 upping the cap on charter schools and a no vote on marijuana legalization. The Berkshire Eagle goes the other way, thumbs down on charter schools and thumbs up for marijuana legalization. Mo Cowan explains why he is voting for Question 2. (CommonWealth) Union officials cry foul over an ad by Gov. Charlie Baker pushing for passage of Question 2, saying the ad is being funded by financial executives who manage state pension funds. (Boston Globe)

The head of Medford’s police union apologized after a since-deleted posting on the union’s Facebook page had a picture of him and another officer standing with a shackled person in inmate clothing wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. (Boston Herald)


For the 16th year in a row, New Bedford is number one among the country’s ports for value in fish landings, hauling in $322 million mostly from high-priced scallops despite ranking 11th in volume of catch. (Standard-Times)

Fidelity Charitable Gift Foundation, the donor-advised nonprofit spinoff of Fidelity Investments, has ousted longtime leader United Way as the largest charity in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual ranking of the top 400 nonprofits.

LakePharma of California is in talks with Worcester to become the first tenant of the former state hospital site. (Masslive)

Yotel, a futuristic hotel chain featuring technology-based automation at affordable prices that could upend both the traditional model and the expanding home-sharing app industry such as Airbnb, is planning to open a hotel in the Seaport District sometime next year. (Boston Herald)


MassHealth insurers are struggling with low rates and patients with high needs. Neighborhood Health Plan, one of the biggest money losers, is renegotiating contracts with health providers. The plan won’t say which health providers, but it’s possible Neighborhood is trying to reduce the rates of its owner, Partners Healthcare. (Boston Globe)

American women are now ending pregnancies with pills as often as with surgery. (Reuters)

Sales of what were expected to be blockbuster cholesterol-fighting drugs are tanking. (Stat)


MBTA officials say no new revenue is needed right now for capital projects. The transit agency just can’t process it with current staff. (CommonWealth)

Bridj, the private on-demand bus service, has offered to provide the MBTA with late-night service in return for subsidies. (State House News Service)

Toll takers take their leave on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Berkshire Eagle)


A new report from UNICEF says more than 2 billion children worldwide breathe toxic air. (Associated Press)

A 12-foot great white shark died after being discovered stranded on an Orleans beach. (Cape Cod Times)


A Brockton High School student is raped on school grounds; police say they have arrested a suspect after keeping the incident secret for close to two days. (The Enterprise)

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said officers had “no choice” in shooting and killing a mentally ill man who he said was brandishing a knife at police and EMTs early Sunday but the victim’s mother said her son did not have a weapon. (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Environmental Police have an unusual policy in place that allows them to take time off from their regular shifts to do paid details. (Lowell Sun)


Masslive, with back-to-back months of more than 3 million website visitors, claims it is the second-most-visited news website in New England behind BostonGlobe.com/Boston.com.

Nonprofits put up the money for the Boston Globe to hire a classical music critic for the next 10 months. (Media Nation)