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Want to stay up to date with all the news worth reading? Maine and Massachusetts! The Boston Globe is now publishing a Weed Newsletter that comes out every Saturday. I subscribed a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty good, so I will tell you all! If it sucked I wouldn’t take the time to type this out.
Here are the contents of this weeks update:
This Week in Weed
Saturday, September 2 | Follow Dan Adams Twitter
Happy Labor Day weekend, friends. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, I took Friday off, which means my capable colleagues covered the last of the appointments to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
I’ll have lots more on our new pot overlords throughout next week. In the meantime, read the latest CCC coverage on BostonGlobe.com »
THE BIG RIP
this week’s top story
TIME TO FREAK OUT?
Cue the outrage: the new marijuana czar of Massachusetts, a former Bain & Company partner who worked with Mitt Romney, voted against Question 4. And so did most of his new sidekicks.
Meet Cannabis Control Commission chair Steven Hoffman.
As of Friday, Hoffman heads an agency that is tasked with creating a legal marijuana industry but is dominated four-to-one by members who never wanted to make pot legal in the first place. Besides Hoffman, the canna-skeptics are former state Senator Jen Flanagan and two attorneys with extensive experience at state agencies, Britte McBride and Kay Doyle.
As one reader put it: "How many foxes can they fit in this henhouse?"
Pro-pot advocates are predictably and perhaps justifiably worried that putting the anti-marijuana establishment in charge of marijuana means more delays, more restrictive regulations, fewer dispensaries, and the survival of the black market. Some are angry at Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Treasurer Deb Goldberg for appointing people with such views.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Advocates’ anger is best directed at the Legislature. It was lawmakers, after all, who copy-pasted the job requirements for the Mass. Gaming Commission into their package of marijuana law revisions, for reasons that continue to utterly baffle me. Under that language, each nominee had to have a specific background; Goldberg, for example, was required by law to appoint a CCC chair with experience in “corporate management, finance, or securities.” That meant most people with cannabis industry experience were ruled out long before the state’s constitutional officers started their commissioner recruitment drive.
So if you don’t understand why a corporate-type whose most recent company ran loyalty reward programs for retailers is about to be in charge of the marijuana industry, well, neither does the woman who appointed him.
“Familiarity with marijuana wasn’t in the statute,” Goldberg shrugged, when I pressed her on Hoffman’s background.
Even as Question 4 campaign spokesman Jim Borghesani sharply questioned the CCC appointments, he acknowledged that “the unnecessarily restrictive qualification language" handicapped the elected officials.
Similarly, it was legislators, not the Governor, AG, or Treasurer, who delayed implementation by six months, then missed their own deadline by several weeks. That gave officials little time to identify, interview, and appoint candidates by the September 1 deadline.
For the chair gig, Goldberg told me she interviewed 22 people, of whom exactly zero applied proactively. Few of the candidates frantically pinged by her office were interested. Hoffman on the other hand, was interested and prepared.
“He had read the bill thoroughly,” Goldberg recounted. “He had a list of questions about the application of the law and the management structure.”
“He did not have any trepidation” about the challenge of booting up a brand new agency, she added. (It also didn’t hurt that he and Goldberg both graduated from Brookline High School in 1971, though they were not friends.)
DON’T FREAK OUT
First of all, there is one sympathetic face on the commission for the pro-pot crowd: Shaleen Title, who worked on the recreational and medical marijuana campaigns in Colorado and Massachusetts, respectively, and runs a marijuana-industry staffing firm called THC Staffing Group. A thoughtful and oft-quoted advocate, Shaleen is rightfully admired for her insistence on making diversity a cornerstone of the cannabis business from the beginning. (Still, you gotta wonder: what happens when one of her many former clients has business before the CCC?)
Another reason to take a deep breath: A source who met with Hoffman before he was appointed told me he’s a nice, earnest guy who seems eager for the challenge.
And it’s not like Hoffman was marching around outside polling places with a “WEED KILLS” sign. He just voted against Question 4 (which, let’s be honest, was not a perfect bill), for reasons we don’t yet know. Give the guy a chance to explain himself, I say.
Plus, people can come around on this issue. Just look at these incredibly surprising comments from the administration of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a recovering alcoholic who has been outspoken about his disdain for pot.
“This is a new industry that is going to provide jobs for residents,” said Jerome Smith, Walsh’s chief of civic engagement, told Commonwealth Magazine this week. “These dispensaries are also going to be economic generators, same as alcohol licenses. There’s social ills with both products, but when we as the city look at economic drivers, the mayor told us to treat it how we treat our alcohol establishments.” [emphasis mine]
“At the end of the day, Boston is going to set up a good system,” added Smith, whom Walsh has put in charge of implementing recreational marijuana in Boston. “You won’t see anything in Boston with any trickery in zoning or any of that. We’re not going to try to throw up any roadblocks.”
So maybe there’s hope after all.
What do you think about the CCC’s leadership so far? Are you freaking out, waiting it out, or pumped up? Send a note to email@example.com.
marijuana news in brief
BAKER VOWS: NO PERSONAL DATA TO FEDS
The Governor might not be a fan of marijuana, but that doesn’t mean he’s about about to sell out Mass. medical patients to the feds.
Reacting to our report on a US anti-drug official’s effort to collect demographic data on patients, Gov. Baker told reporters: "The bottom line here is we’re not going to do anything that puts anybody’s personal information in jeopardy … We won’t do anything that is going to violate anybody’s privacy. I can promise you that.”
Read the full story from CBS Boston »
MAINE FALLS OFF THE PACE
Earlier this summer, people at a cannabis industry event I attended in Portland, Maine were buzzing about the possibility that the Pine Tree State would open its dispensaries before Massachusetts. Beacon Hill lawmakers at the time were still deadlocked over how to amend the voter-approved marijuana law, while things up north appeared to be going more smoothly.
Since then, however, Massachusetts has passed its new cannabis law and appointed its top regulators. The Augusta crowd, on the other hand, hasn’t passed a bill and doesn’t expect regulations to be issued until next summer.
One problem, Maine lawmakers added, is that Governor Paul LePage — whose relationship with the state Legislature is, uh, frosty at best — refuses to appoint a cannabis coordinator.
Read the full story on PressHerald.com »
CANNABIS CASH = 5% OF ALL MAINE LOBBYING $$
Speaking of Maine, “bankers, accountants, lawyers, real estate brokers and other professionals hoping to serve” the state’s recreational marijuana industry have spent $260,000 on lobbying this year. That, Press-Herald adds, is “sizable by Maine standards, representing about 5 percent of the $4.8 million in total lobbying expenditures.”
Read the full story on PressHerald.com »
NO TEARS FOR THE MIDDLE TIER IN NEVADA
Beer distributors, in my professional experience, seem to have trouble putting on a friendly face for the public and the press. Maybe it’s because they don’t sell directly to consumers, or because their role in the marketplace as mandatory middlemen is enshrined in law and it doesn’t matter if people like them. Whatever the reason, they rarely come across as sympathetic.
The ongoing debacle in Nevada is no exception. Alcohol distributors just lost again in their legal fight against the state’s decision to allow other companies transport and resell pot at the wholesale level. Recall that the original state rec-pot law said only booze firms could distribute marijuana to retailers — which has caused widespread product shortages, and which most other stakeholders agree is unworkable.
My question: What interest does the government have in forcing a dispensary to sell marijuana that it grew itself to a middleman and then buy it back? How does that help the public? To the average person, it seems like an absurd and brazen money grab. Maybe there’s a great reason, but the distributors haven’t exactly made a compelling public case for why it should be law.
Read the full story on ReviewJournal.com »
NV TO CASINOS: PRETEND MARIJUANA DOESN’T EXIST
In Nevada, you can get drunk in public, pawn a family heirloom, gamble away half the proceeds, use the rest to hire prostitutes, and no one would blink an eye. Businesses enjoy similar latitude; casinos can pour free drinks down patrons’ throats 24/7 as they play games designed to make them lose money.
But opening a dispensary in a casino, apparently, is a bridge too far. The Nevada Gaming Commission reiterated last week that casinos can’t sell pot as long as the drug remains illegal under federal law. In fact, the five-member body said, casinos can’t even host marijuana industry conventions, and casino owners and their families can’t invest in cannabis firms. Yeesh.
The reason? “The reputation of the gaming industry is at stake.” I’ll wait while you wipe your (free) drink off the screen.
Read the full story on ReviewJournal.com »
WYNN RESORT CASINO AND DISPENSARY?
Hey, guess which other state has casino gambling and legalized recreational cannabis? Our very own Massachusetts.
So what’s the policy here? I shot a note to Mass. Gaming Commission chair and friend-of-the-newsletter Steve Crosby. Unfortunately, I think they’ve tightened his leash after he spouted off about the CCC’s deadlines in TWIW last month. I only got this statement from a spokeswoman:
“The Commission has not yet had the opportunity to fully contemplate the cannabis law and its impact, if any, on gaming… I would imagine that if this were to come up in a non-hypothetical way, the Commission would approach it like they do all complex matters – in a transparent and public setting with robust discussion, testimony, public comment and public deliberation.”
Looking forward to it.
THERE’S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE CANNABIS STAND
I usually trash gimmicky corporate press releases — “Uber delivers kittens!” — the second I get them. I mean, anyone can do anything once. Wake me up when you launch a full-time cat-sharing platform, Travis.
Still, Netflix got me with this one:
The video-streaming site and content-maker recently partnered with a dispensary to sell strains named after its shows, including “Banana Stand Kush,” inspired by Arrested Development.
There’s no real business play here (the pot was available for one weekend at a single California medical dispensary) but I’m sharing it anyway because it’s noteworthy that a large mainstream company would fly this close to the sun, so to speak, even if only for a moment.
No link, though. I can’t be a party to the encouragement of these gimmicks.
I’M GOOD, YOU CAN KILL IT
Last week’s puzzler: Why is there such a large gender disparity in medical marijuana recommendations? A TWIW reader who asked to be identified only as “anonymous wife” offered this plausible theory: “because we smoke our boyfriend’s/husband’s marijuana, dear ;- )”
"I THINK THEY ARE STARTING TO FEEL IT"
An instant classic: A mother unwittingly cooks a meal using cannabis butter left in the fridge by her son, who realizes his mistake too late and frantically takes to the Internet for advice just as his entire family starts feeling it. Mom, our protagonist reports at one point, “had some kind of epiphany about how boring her life is and how she wishes she never gave up on doing artwork.” MY ENTIRE FAMILY JUST ATE MY CANNABUTTER WHAT DO i DO?? via Reddit »
ALL NIMBLY BIMBLY
The first trailer is out for the long-awaited sequel to the cannabis/cult 2001 classic Super Troopers. Comes out next April 20 (get it?). Watch the Super Troopers 2 red-band teaser (NSFW) »
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