This bud’s for you
The state’s legal marijuana era started with a bang, or, by mid-morning for some early customers, perhaps a buzz.
There was a celebratory feel at the first two retail outlets to open in Massachusetts. The mayor of Northampton was given the honor of making the first purchase at the store there, while an Iraq veteran and medical marijuana advocate was the inaugural customer at Cultivate in Leicester.
“This is a big day,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.
No, not yesterday. That was the guv’s comment in August as he toured the new MGM facility in Springfield a day before it kicked off the era of legal casino gambling in the state. No such gubernatorial pronouncement welcomed yesterday’s entry of another once illicit sector to the world of above-board commerce, where it promises to be every bit the economic powerhouse of the new state-sanctioned gambling halls.
It was easy to take in the scenes at the two potapalooza sites with same detached bemusement as witnessing the headlong rush to empty one’s pockets into slot machines that operate as reverse ATMs.
But if “haze” is your thing, go for it. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
The most serious note in yesterday’s hubub about now-legal weed buys came from recognition of the disproportionate damage pot laws did to minority communities. Daquaan Hamilton, a 22-year-old black student at UMass Amherst, gave voice to that as he became the first customer at the Northampton store who wasn’t the city’s mayor.
“There are a lot of people throughout our history who have done prison time for such minor offenses, like having weed paraphernalia or having small amounts on them,” he said. “The fact that I can walk out of the store right now with this and not be afraid of anything that can happen to me, it’s pretty great.”
Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarland picked up on the same theme, starting with the jarring sight of the local police force helping direct traffic into the Leicester store parking lot. “In the blink of an eye, pot has jumped from the shadows onto Main and Wall streets. Suddenly drug houses are called marijuana shops; drug dealers, chief executive officers; and drug buyers, honored clients” he wrote.
We are being told to “take an amnesia pill, to block out the past when the police, instead of being tasked with keeping the marijuana client line moving smoothly, donned para-military gear to march marijuana smokers and distributors into jails and prisons,” he wrote.
And blacks were arrested in that reefer madness era, McFarland says, citing a 2013 ACLU study, at a rate nearly four times that of whites, despite using pot at roughly the same rate. Despite the new era of legalized pot, writes McFarland, “I don’t hear anyone saying we should spring those currently serving time on non-violent marijuana charges, or that we should scrub the records of those who have served time for such charges.”
You don’t have to be excited about the new opportunity for a licit lift to feel a natural high over the fact that those days are now over.
Shaleen Title, a marijuana activist who sits on the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, tweeted out video of Globe reporter Dan Adams’s interview with Daquaan Hamilton at the Northampton store. “If you’re feeling cynical, Daquaan’s interview right here is the cure,” she said.
Sen. Harriette Chandler and Rebecca Hart Holder of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts say Massachusetts has work to do in protecting access to abortion, including eliminating a requirement that women under 18 must seek permission from their parents or a judge before having the procedure. (CommonWealth)
Former Rockland selectmen chairman Edward Kimball, who resigned amid a messy sex scandal in which he had an affair with another selectman who resigned after allegedly demanding sex from the town administrator, has threatened to sue the town and some of its employees and file a discrimination claim with the state though he did not specify the charges. Meanwhile, the new Board of Selectmen voted to keep Town Administrator Allan Chiocca on paid leave until his contract expires as Chiocca has filed a claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against the selectmen who first voted to suspend him. (Patriot Ledger)
The Worcester City Council approves a downtown business improvement district. (Telegram &
President Trump reportedly sought to unleash the Justice Department on Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey to bring charges against his perceived enemies. Trump answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller and after his attorneys submitted the responses, they called for the investigation into Russian meddling in the election to end. (New York Times)
One potential challenger to US Rep. Nancy Pelosi tossed her support to the California Democrat to become speaker in exchange for a plum chairmanship, a blow to the insurgent bloc of representatives, including Rep. Seth Moulton, seeking new leadership. (Washington Post) Just over half of New England’s all-Democratic House delegation — 11 of 21 representatives — is now pledged to support Pelosi, with seven undecided and three against her return as speaker. (Boston Globe)
Democrats should not race to the left, says Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)
Could the days be numbered for the so-called “union loophole,” which lets labor organizations, but not companies, donate up to $15,000 to individual candidates? (Boston Globe) Recently, Rachel Dec evaluated the scope of the union loophole in this year’s election. (CommonWeath)
With a State House hearing on a bill pressuring National Grid to settle with its locked-out steelworkers scheduled for December 4, the union is offering its first counter-proposal to the utility since the lockout began. (State House News)
The Amazon HQ2 search was a financial loser for also-ran cities, which devoted countless hours of staff time to the effort and, in some cases, developers may have tied up land by signing agreements that prevented them from marketing property until the hunt was over. (Governing)
Apple is in discussions with the Department of Veterans Affairs to give military veterans electronic access to their medical records, a partnership that would simplify hospital and doctors visits while giving the tech giant a pool of millions of new customers. (Wall Street Journal)
The interim chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Katherine Newman, makes clear to Globe columnist Adrian Walker that she is very interested in the permanent post.
A suit filed by current and former against Dartmouth College over sexual misconduct allegations is galvanizing an effort by women in the sciences to speak out on the issue. (Boston Globe)
Sources tell Fox Sports and MassLive that Mark Whipple, the football coach at UMass Amherst, is getting the boot.
Stuff yourself with turkey but stay away from the lettuce after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that consumers should not eat romaine lettuce because of a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria that has sickened people in 11 states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Washington Post)
A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank finds smoking wreaks havoc on a family’s finances, with data showing smokers earn less than nonsmokers and insurance costs skyrocket. (U.S. News & World Report)
A new study finds cutting back on social media can reduce loneliness and depression. Who knew? (Tribune News Service)
Natick officials voted to raise the annual fee by 27 percent for a parking permit at a commuter rail lot the town leases from the Archdiocese of Boston, making the fee higher than nearby Wellesley and Framingham lots. (MetroWest Daily News)
With recycling costs skyrocketing in the wake of China’s decision to restrict contaminated recyclables, Weymouth officials adopted new guidelines and will inspect residents’ recycling bins to ensure compliance. (Patriot Ledger)
Steve Wynn, in a filing, says he had told some Wynn Resorts officials about sexual misconduct allegations against him. (Boston Herald)
The FBI appears to be in no hurry to release Whitey Bulger’s file now that the murderous mobster is dead, going so far as to claim his case didn’t rise to the level of “exceptional media interest” that “raised questions about the government’s integrity.” (Boston Herald)
A Sharon man with a high security clearance through his work at defense contractor Raytheon has been charged with obstructing a federal investigation and mishandling classified information after a probe determined he downloaded files from the company’s computer and connected a flash drive to the network. (The Enterprise)
MEDIAGlamour is preparing to end its print magazine. (New York Times)
NPR’s Terry Gross offers tips on how to talk to people. (New York Times)