9:30 a.m. | Assistant Secretary for MassHealth Mike Levine, announces new $1.25M for MassHealth members bumped in the redetermination process. | The Connolly Center, 90 Chelsea Street, Everett
10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission will discuss quarterly reports and a DraftKing's noncompliance issue from MGM Springfield.
10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission meets virtually to discuss social consumption pilot program and more.
11 a.m. | Senators introduce their fiscal 2024 budget, which will be formally taken up on the floor Tuesday. | Senate chambers
12:30 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announces "Safety Surge," a new program aimed at cutting down on speeding and crashes. | Thetford Evans Playground, 15 Evans St., Mattapan
3 p.m. | Boston City Council Civil Rights & Immigrant Advancement Committee meets regarding redistricting maps. | Iannella Chamber, City Hall
We’re still waiting on cannabis cafés in Massachusetts
Seven years after voters legalized recreational cannabis — including social consumption — there’s still no public place to smoke, vape or consume pot in a state where it can be legally bought.
But Massachusetts may be inching closer to opening its first cannabis cafés — think bars but with pot instead of booze. State regulators are working to launch a pilot program first created more than four years ago that will test-drive pot lounges in a dozen communities. It had been stalled until lawmakers passed enabling legislation last year.
State Cannabis Control Commission members today will zero in on a dense regulatory framework rewrite that now stands in the way of cannabis cafés — with an eye toward equity in particular.
Licenses will be available solely to so-called equity applicants from communities hit hardest by the war on drugs for the first 36 months, per current regulations. They are also considering workplace safety, local bylaws and taxation.
The 2019 rules would allow only vaping indoors with joint smoking and other combustion relegated to the outdoors — a point of contention with entrepreneurs.
In a recent memo, the commission noted the regulation rewrite is “still in its early stages” in what could be a months-more public process. In April, commissioners solicited public feedback.
Commissioner Nurys Camargo said earlier this month that “social consumption is already happening in the unregulated market.”
A private club in Worcester’s Canal District has been quietly letting members toke up for years. The Summit Lounge operates in a legal gray area as the state’s only cannabis lounge.
The waiting game has taken long enough to chase off entrepreneurs, including former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson. He scrapped his plans for a cannabis lounge above his cannabis shop in the city and went to build a bar instead, telling officials he was motivated to ditch the café because of the slow timeline.
Others have left for greener pastures in the thriving California and Colorado markets or to emerging ones in Nevada and New York.
The sluggish pace is on par with the state’s legal cannabis rollout, where regulators took more than two years to license the first recreational dispensaries.
Once the rules are written, Provincetown, Somerville, Springfield, Holyoke, Amherst, and North Adams officials have already greenlit their communities for the first cafes. Commissioners, however, have the final say.
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Senate stares down budget debate
It’s the Senate’s turn to take up the budget. Lawmakers are slated to introduce the chamber’s $56 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year this afternoon, but Senate President Karen Spilka’s office says the formal debate will have to wait until Tuesday. Senators have racked up 1,042 amendments, teeing up a busy few days as lawmakers wade through the fat.
The rise and fall of Rachael Rollins ends in resignation
Rachael Rollins officially resigned from her post as the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts on Friday in a brief resignation letter to President Biden, reports WBUR. Rollins, in a pair of federal reports last week, was accused of several ethics violations — including potential meddling in the Suffolk DA race. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy will serve as acting U.S. attorney following Rollins’ resignation.
The bully pulpit: Supposed First Amendment crusaders test tempers with local officials
Cities and towns around Massachusetts and beyond are on edge over a new YouTube trend of wannabe influencers targeting city and town officials. Armed with video cameras, people are taking to city halls, libraries and other public buildings to conduct a so-called First Amendment audits, which The Boston Globe’s John Hilliard describes as a kind of performative protest that tests free speech rights by confronting and often seemingly provoking government employees to generate viewership. Officials and citizens in Lexington and Lynn have been caught in the web.
Hollywood writers picket BU graduation over speaker choice
The Hollywood writers’ strike hit Massachusetts this weekend when the Writers Guild of America members protested Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s commencement speech at Boston University, reports Grace Zokovitch for The Boston Herald. The picket was nearly 400 strong.
Locked up: Massachusetts guardsman charged in classified lead will stay behind bars
A Massachusetts Air National Guard member charged with leaking highly classified military documents is staying behind bars while he awaits trial, reports Alanna Durkin Richer for GBH. The ruling comes after prosecutors revealed Jack Teixeira, 21, had a history of violent speech and was caught by superiors and reprimanded for taking notes on classified information months before his arrest.
On the job: Boston mayor’s progressive agenda bumps up against lobbies
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu won a whopping 64 percent of voters in 2021, but her progressive agenda is facing roadblocks now that she’s putting her campaign promises into motion — a trend leftist leaders from around the country are facing, reports Jenna Russell for The New York Times. Wu, like others, is facing pushback and scrutiny over rising crime rates and homelessness.
Do over: New election planned after recount doesn’t change outcome in West Stockbridge
They’re starting from scratch. After a Friday recount didn’t change a single vote in the deadlocked race for a seat on the West Stockbridge Select Board, the town will essentially run the election over again. The Berkshire Eagle’s Clarence Fanto reports both incumbent Kathleen Keresey and challenger Jon Piasecki will be on the ballot, which will be open to all nominees ahead of a July 17 special election.
Fall River cable show shut down after complaints from women in government
Bristol County Community College has suspended production of a long-running public affairs show and launched an investigation after three women in city government said the show was being used to disparage them. Jo C. Goode of the Herald-News reports it’s not clear if Spindle City Straight Talk will return after the inquiry but notes that hosts said they were off the air because of complaints from political enemies hoping to silence them.
Summer at Scott’s: Brown hosts presidential hopefuls as he mulls 2026 Senate run
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown says he’ll host a series of events with 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls in the backyard of his Rye, N.H. home, and tells Fox News he hasn’t ruled out making another bid for one of the New Hampshire seats in the U.S. Senate in 2026. Brown’s first ‘No BS BBQ’ event of this cycle will feature former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Cape Cod DA says his office should get more funding
Cape and Island District Attorney Robert Galibois is hoping the region’s legislative delegation can boost the budget of his office as he eyes new programs and additional assistant DA hires. Rachael Devaney of the Cape Cod Times reports Galibois believes his office is underfunded by $3 million a year based on the budgets of other districts in the state of similar size.