The Codcast: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
To listen to the state’s newest regulatory commission in its meetings, the tenor and terms, for the most part, are no different than hearings regarding oversight of most industries in the state.
But the big difference is the industry they are charged with overseeing – legal marijuana – and members of the Cannabis Control Commission have just hit a historic milestone, finalizing regulations to get legal recreational sale and use of marijuana ready to roll.
The regulations allow the commission to begin accepting applications for growers, manufacturers, and retail sellers on April 1 and start issuing licenses on June 1. Both of those dates are in the statute but the target date for sales, July 1, is not set in stone, though commission members say they’re on track. But what the industry looks like on the first day of sales is nothing like what it will look like after some time, they say.
“July 1 is the start date, not the end date,” says commission chairman Steven Hoffman, who along with commissioner Shaleen Title joined The Codcast to talk about the regulations. “The industry is going to take time to evolve. It’s going to take a few years, I believe, before this industry looks mature.”
Hoffman and Title sat down with CommonWealth, the first time at least two commissioners have been interviewed together outside of meetings, to talk about the rollout of the regulations and their expectations for the evolution of the industry, especially when it comes to where people can buy marijuana. With many cities and towns taking a cautious approach – and more than 100 banning retail sales within their borders, there will be large gaps across the state.
The referendum called for people with criminal records from marijuana-related offenses to be allowed to work in the industry, an issue that has caused some controversy not only among critics but even on the board. The commission voted to institute some restrictions on how broad to expand the categories that prohibit ex-offenders from being employed selling and growing marijuana.
Both Hoffman and Title favor rules that would be looser on who can work in the business, arguing minorities are the ones most disproportionately affected by drug-related criminal records. Title said those people have a lot to offer to the nascent industry, even if they may not understand the legal business model. She said that’s why the commission crafted regulations to establish technical programs to teach those business skills.
“There are skills that are transferable there,” said Title. “Knowledge of the plant and the way that it’s consumed is an extremely attractive skill.”
While other states that have legalized marijuana got their industries up and running in a matter of months, it will be exactly 600 days between the time voters in Massachusetts approved the referendum and the time the first legal joint can be sold. Title, the only member of the commission with experience in the legal marijuana business, having worked as a lawyer and consultant to the industry in other states, said she would have liked to see the pace move quicker but understands the “go slow” approach for those who are still trying to wrap their heads around the end of prohibition.
The commission had considered making the regulations much more sweeping by licensing delivery-only services and “social consumption” cafes – a.k.a. pot bars – but decided to hold off after some elected officials said the board was trying too much too soon, though they insisted they did not bow to pressure. The delivery and café businesses are envisioned by Title and others as a “low bar” entry into the business for people in disadvantaged communities and those without deep pockets, especially minorities, to get their foot in the door. Title said the decision was a wise delay, not an abandonment of the idea, which the commission will revisit in October and aim to regulate by next February.
“Every step of the way, I’ve been looking for ways to start that opportunity,” said Title, who is also the only person of color on the commission. “This is something that has been decades in the making so one year isn’t going to make that big a difference.”
Gov. Charlie Baker is preparing coastal resiliency legislation. (Salem News)
A Herald editorial applauds Baker’s economic development bill for including a permanent sales tax holiday — something the state retailers’ association is calling for in the ballot question campaign it is planning that would also lower the state sales tax.
The number of unclaimed bodies at funeral homes around the state is growing and owners of the homes are taking a loss to bury the dead because the stipend from the state hasn’t increased in 37 years. (Herald News)
Vandals spray-painted racist graffiti on African Meeting House in Nantucket, a historic building that dates back to 1827. (Cape Cod Times)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia removed state Rep. Carole Fiola from the new high school building committee after he said the lawmaker, who is the wife of a Correia adversary, bad-mouthed the city and his administration to people on Beacon Hill. (Herald News)
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell suggests a way for his city and other Gateway Cities to compete with Boston. (CommonWealth)
US Rep. Richard Neal offers 10 proposals for addressing gun violence in America. (Berkshire Eagle)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who made a run of national TV interviews yesterday, says she’s not running for president in 2020, but she won’t commit to serving a full six-year term if reelected this fall. (Boston Globe) If the “progressive superstar” wants to convince Massachusetts voters she doesn’t have her eye on the national stage, “maybe she should skip the national media limelight,” says the Herald’s Hillary Chabot. The Berkshire Eagle trumpets the fact that Meet the Press host Chuck Todd read part of the paper’s editorial urging Warren to take a DNA test.
Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spent thousands of dollars from her municipal campaign warchest on political advisers this fall after winning reelection to her seat, but she denies that they were being paid to lay the groundwork for the congressional challenge she has launched to Rep. Michael Capuano, which would be a violation of campaign finance laws. (Boston Globe)
Former state treasurer Steve Grossman decries rising reports of anti-Semitism and calls on candidates in the 2018 election to denounce it. (Boston Herald)
A Globe editorial parodies Mitt Romney’s ever shifting stances by offering voters in Utah, where he’s now running for Senate, a primer on the functioning of his various features, from his hair (perfect) to his spine (given to sudden bouts of collapse).
While Democrats across the country are giddy about their prospects in the mid-term election, a new poll shows about half the incumbent Democratic senators defending their seats in states won by President Trump are trailing their GOP rivals. (U.S. News $ World Report)
Businesses catering to the marijuana industry start to spring up in Massachusetts. (MassLive)
Younger workers and white-collar workers are bolstering the ranks of labor unions, which have been shrinking for decades. (Boston Globe)
A hike in the number of craft breweries in central Massachusetts has increased the demand for workers. (MetroWest Daily News)
Katie Novak, the assistant principal of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, says personalized learning is the key to the state’s education success. (CommonWealth)
US Rep. Seth Moulton urges Tufts University and UMass Boston to sever ties with on-campus Chinese institutes. (Boston Globe)
Drug enforcement efforts to crack down illegal opioid drug sales are spilling over and causing a shortage of the pain-relieving pharmaceuticals at Boston area hospitals. (Boston Herald)
Almost half the 100 players on the New England Patriots first three Super Bowl-winning teams report suffering the effects of brain injuries. (Boston Globe)
A startup called Biobot is trying to convince cities and towns to buy a product that would allow them to test sewage to determine which neighborhoods are using opioids. Cambridge is one of the company’s first customers. (Governing)
Will gondolas in the Seaport District become a thing? Ari Ofsevit and Eitan Kensky of TransitMatters urge policymakers to forget about gondolas and instead convert the Silver Line into another branch of the Green Line. (CommonWealth) Meanwhile, the Boston Globe looks at how gondolas are working in Mexico City.
Tolls may be the best way to deal with Boston’s traffic congestion, says Michael Widmer. (CommonWealth)
In case you spent the weekend under a rock and hadn’t heard, it may not be quite time yet to put away the snow shovel for the season. (Boston Herald)
Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute discovered a “super-colony” of more than 1 million Adelie penguins on a remote island in Antarctica, altering the belief that the species was in decline. (Cape Cod Times)
A North Carolina man who grew up in Kingston was arrested and charged with the 1986 murder of 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin, whose body was found in Myles Standish Forest three weeks after she disappeared. The slain teen was the sister of Kerry Gilpin, now the superintendent of the State Police. (Patriot Ledger)
The state Department of Correction settled a lawsuit brought by inmates suffering from hepatitis C, promising to phase in treatment with costly drugs. (MassLive)
The lawyer for a Duxbury man accused of stockpiling guns and explosive materials wants a judge to issue a gag order against Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz to prevent him from warning area police and residents about his client. The attorney said the accusations against his client are based on false and misleading information. (Patriot Ledger)
A scorched corpse is discovered on a farm in Hatfield. (MassLive)
Williamstown boasts that it may have come up with the ideal municipal marijuana regulatory frarework. (Berkshire Eagle)
Former TV sportsman Bob Lobel, long an advocate for legalizing marijuana, plans to launch a marijuana-focused “potcast.” (Boston Globe)
The radio chain iHeartMedia may be heading for bankruptcy. (Boston Globe)
Officials at CBS are moving ahead with plans to air an interview with Stephanie Clifford, the porn star who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, about her affair with President Trump while the specter of legal action from Trump’s personal attorney hovers overhead, (New York Times)PASSINGS
Chuck Campion, a longtime political advisor to state and national Democratic politicians who started his career in West Roxbury managing a state representative race at the age of 9, died last week due to complications from kidney disease. He was 62. (New York Times) The Boston Globe and Washington Post also ran lengthy obituaries.