Recreational pot shop

Happening Today:

10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission holds a hybrid hearing to gather public input on the draft regulations it unanimously adopted in late July. | Worcester Union Station, public meeting room, Worcester

10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Superintendent Mary Skipper host the Boston Public Schools' annual Countdown to Kindergarten event. | East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 365 Bremen St, East Boston

Noon | Boston City Council's Rules and Administration Committee holds a working session on implementing an anti-bullying policy on the council. | Curley Room, 5th floor, City Hall, Boston

Noon | U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern delivers a keynote address welcoming UMass Amherst students to a new academic year, alongside Sen. Comerford and Rep. Domb. | Mass Amherst Old Chapel Great Room, 144 Hicks Way, Amherst

Come November, the Cannabis Control Commission will roll out new regulations meant to lend the commission more control over local host agreements between cities and towns and marijuana businesses, cap impact fees communities can assess on businesses, allow for social consumption sites and remove barriers to entry for people with criminal records.

Host community agreements and the fees they assess on pot shops and cannabis operators are among the biggest points of contention [often 3% of total sales on an establishment]. Critics say cities and towns have turned the contracts into a pay-to-play situation that hits mom-and-pop owners and social equity candidates without deep pockets the hardest. 

Today, commissioners will hear final thoughts from stakeholders and the community at a 10 a.m. public hearing before putting a final point on the coming revisions.

Marion McNabb, Ph.D and president of the Cannabis Center of Excellence who chairs the Research Subcommittee of the commission’s Cannabis Advisory Board, told MASSterList she is “confident” the revised regulations will increase transparency and oversight and net a positive result for equity and diversity across the industry. 

“These new regulations would increase the commission’s oversight of HCAs, ensure documentation is produced of any negative impacts, and be more supportive of social equity and economic empowerment applicants. In fact, we have not seen major negative impacts of the cannabis industry here in Massachusetts and youth use has declined since adult use legalization,” she said. 

Shaleen Title, a former member of the Cannabis Control Commission, told WCVB the new regulations will create a fair playing field for all cannabis businesses. 

“You’re now going to have transparent access to what the process is. You can’t be charged a fee that is essentially bribery,” she said.

Caroline Pineau, owner of Stem in downtown Haverhill, was the second social equity operator to open up shop in Massachusetts and the first woman in the state to do so. She said impact fees have skimmed her profits and made expansion nearly impossible even as the state’s cannabis industry has grown to a $5 billion-a-year industry. Asked whether the revisions will help businesses like hers thrive, she said “The devil is in the details.”

Stem has coughed up nearly $1 million in community impact fees to the city over the last three years and Pineau is currently suing Haverhill over its refusal to document how her impact fees have been used to address any actual harms caused by her cannabis business — which is the intention of the law. 

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Speaking of cannabis… State Cannabis chief says he’s staying put for now

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins says he has no plans to leave the position, contrary to late July remarks by commission Chairwoman Shannon O’Brien, who ominously hinted at the longtime director’s departure at a recent commission meeting then apologized. Collins said he finds the job stimulating and “I remain the executive director and have not resigned.”

State House News Service 

Ranked Choice Voting efforts still going strong in Boston despite statewide ballot flop

While most ballot initiatives cleared the first hurdle in their pathway to the 2024 ballot, Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office rejected one that sought to let voters decide whether Massachusetts should offer ranked-choice voting which voters nixed via petition just two cycles ago. Though the move effectively halts the statewide effort for now, a push for RCV in Boston is still going strong. Supporters say ranked-choice voting leads to more equitable outcomes. A spokesman for the group said Ranked Choice Boston’s official video launched this week. The music artist is Jaiden aka “Jaydo” Harris, who is a youth volunteer for the group.

YouTube video

Ranked Choice Boston

Neo-Nazi group leads anti-migrant protest in front of Marlborough hotel

A Neo-Nazi group known as NSC-131 is believed to be behind a 15- to 20-person protest in front of a Marlborough hotel last weekend, leading to increased police patrols in the area and harsh criticism from local officials, Community Advocate reported.  Local police were told that the protesters were neo-Nazis protesting migrants who were staying at the hotel in Marlborough at a time when the state is shelling out millions per month to house an unprecedented number of needy families in emergency shelter spaces. 

MetroWest Daily News | Community Advocate

MASSterList readers weigh in on migrant crisis

Thursday’s MASSterList focused on the state emergency shelter crisis and the partisan fallout that’s pitting state Republicans and Democrats against each other as the state responds to exploding need.

Reader Kevin L. wrote in with his own hot take:

“1. You know who else is upset with refugees in hotels? Nazis. NSC-131 has been protesting at the hotels, including Marlborough. Let’s cover that. Let’s ask towns why they’re more upset about refugees than Nazis in their towns

2. ‘Illegal immigrants’ are not eligible for EBT or SNAP. Rep. Peter Durant is either stupid or lying when he claims otherwise. Please ask him which it is.”


State’s top court allows Canton school to continue to shock disabled attendees

The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton can continue delivering electric shock treatments to its disabled clients as part of its therapy, according to a Supreme Judicial Court decision issued Thursday which declined to step in and stop the practice. Shock therapy is a controversial practice done nowhere else in the country and the practice has been targeted by advocates for people with disabilities and state and federal regulators who so far have been unable to stop it. About 30 of the center’s 300 clients receive the treatment.


Schools boosting mental health offerings

School systems in Massachusetts are ramping up mental health services for students, taking steps ranging from hiring additional counselors to offering in-school group therapy sessions. Experts have cited the Covid-19 pandemic as one of several reasons young people are struggling with their mental health.


Power grid holding up under year’s heaviest demand

The region’s electric grid borne its heaviest load the last few days but is showing sufficient capacity, according to ISO-New England, which operates the region’s wholesale electricity market. As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, close to the peak time of day for usage, customers were consuming more than 23,500 megawatts – about 3,000 megawatts shy of the system’s peak capacity.

State House News Service

MBTA’s new station chief makes JFK/UMass stop early facelift target

Dennis Varley, newly installed in a role overseeing MBTA stations, expects significant improvements will be made to the decaying JFK/UMass Red Line station during several weeks this fall while it is closed so workers can repair tracks. Varley said he knows stations throughout the system need work.


Advocates pushing for new reading requirements in state

Some education advocates want the state Legislature to mandate a new approach to ensuring 3rd-graders know how to read. The advocates want, among other things, an expansion of in-service training for school staff and a requirement that schools notify parents if children are struggling with reading.

Commonwealth Magazine

State has a new battery-powered unicorn

Another Massachusetts biotech company has achieved what is called “unicorn” status – a valuation of $1 billion or more – with its latest funding round. Ascend Elements Inc. is the third company in the state to reach the status, according to the Boston Business Journal. Ascend states on its website that it focuses on developing lithium batteries in an environmentally friendly manner.

Boston Business Journal

Private time: After 8 years on Beacon Hill, Polito focuses on parenting 

The Telegram’s Kinga Borondy caught up with former Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito as she received a humanitarian award from the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts and finds she is happily immersing herself in her kids’ sporting events and the family business–and enjoying some private time after eight years in office.

Telegram & Gazette

Lenox waits for next shoe to drop after Salame guilty plea 

Ryan Salame, who made millions as a cryptocurrency entrepreneur and invested heavily in local businesses in Lenox, will plead guilty to fraud charges in connection with unlawful political contributions. The deal calls for Salame to forfeit $1.5 billion and pay a $5 million fine–all of which could have implications for his Lenox restaurant and bar investments.

The Berkshire Eagle

Newburyport payment will settle First Amendment dustup

The city of Newburyport will pay a local organization $10,000 to settle claims that the group;’s First Amendment rights were violated when Mayor Sean Reardon removed its posters from a city bulletin board. Jim Sullivan of the Daily News reports the city also agreed to issue a statement reiterating its support for residents’ free speech rights. 

Newburyport News

Plug ‘em in: Updates need to make Worcester triple-deckers truly affordable, study says

Triple-decker homes in Worcester need to be upgraded to reduce their energy use in order to become an important source of affordable housing–and a local groups wants to tap the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to electrify and insulate the iconic structures, Trea Lavery of MassLive reports.


Weekend political talk shows

Keller@Large, with Jon Keller on CBS Boston (WBZ), 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. The guest is David Cash, EPA New England Regional Administrator, discussing weird summer weather and impact of local septic regulatory changes.

On the Record, WCVB-TV, 11 a.m. on Sunday. The guest this week is Boston City Council President Ed Flynn who will discuss the Mass and Cass crisis plan, addressing violent crime in Boston, and ongoing controversies on the City Council. Ben Simmoneau and Sharman Sacchetti host. Boston Globe Columnist Mary Ann Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Virginia Buckingham join the roundtable discussion.

@Issue, NBC10 Boston or NECN, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Guests this week are former City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George, former Bay State Banner managing editor Yawu Miller and Ed Burley, co-chair of the Jamaica Plain ProgressivesHosts are Sue O’Connell and Cory Smith.

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList

Keith Regan is a freelance writer and local news junkie who has been on the MASSterList morning beat since the newsletter’s earliest days. A graduate of Northeastern University and Emerson College, Regan lives in Hopkinton with his wife, Lisa.