Massachusetts top Dems argue over what to fix first: state budget or marijuana bill
BOSTON — The state’s top Democratic lawmakers clashed this week over who’s to blame for the failure to pass two key pieces of legislation: an overdue state budget and a highly-watched bill making changes to the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law.
Speaker Robert DeLeo late Wednesday issued a statement asking House negotiators working to hammer out a compromise marijuana bill to suspend their talks until a final state budget is approved and sent to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
DeLeo said it’s important to get the budget bill wrapped up for the fiscal year that began July 1. He added that ongoing negotiations on a final budget and final marijuana bill have never been linked by the House and “tying unrelated negotiations together for political leverage does a disservice to the residents of the commonwealth.”
Senate President Stan Rosenberg issued his own statement, saying that the “mischief makers are once again at work.”
“The Senate has not and will not link the budget and marijuana negotiations. Period,” Rosenberg said. “The Senate is fully committed to continuing negotiations on both the budget and marijuana legislation simultaneously.”
Negotiations on both bills are taking place behind closed doors at the Statehouse.
The six-member marijuana conference committee missed last Friday’s self-imposed deadline and resumed talks Wednesday.
The House voted to repeal the recreational marijuana law approved by Massachusetts voters last fall and replace it with a bill that calls for sharply higher taxes on legal pot sales and more control for local officials over marijuana stores in their communities.
The Senate passed a bill that keeps the current law with a number of proposed changes.
State government has continued to operate despite the lack of a new budget because of a temporary stopgap budget intended to avoid a shutdown as negotiations continue between House and Senate conferees charged with coming up with a final spending plan for the 2018 fiscal year.
— By The Associated Press
Did you just smell that too? In our nation’s capital, weed is seemingly everywhere
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arash Shirazi is a pretty cosmopolitan guy. A music agent and filmmaker, he hangs out with creative types and bohemians. He’s lived in L.A., and spent time in cities such as, yes, Amsterdam, so it’s fair to say that he’s not particularly prudish in his social life.
And yet. . . leaving a Washington parking lot recently, he took pause when a distinctively skunky scent passed under his nostrils.
Of course he’d smelled marijuana before. But this was a weekday afternoon — in Georgetown!
“I was surprised,” he explained. “Georgetown’s a bit more buttoned-up.”
Well, that’s what they used to say about Washington in general. But now, more than two years after the District legalized marijuana possession, it seems that everywhere you go in the nation’s capital, you catch a whiff of weed. And it’s often in the places where you least expect it.
On H Street downtown, as you wind your way between officeworkers rushing back from lunch.
At 10th and E, in the shadow of the FBI headquarters.
In the hallway of your apartment building. In the foyer of your gym. In Aisle 9 of the Walmart, wafting in through the beach towels. (Wait, Walmart?)
If you’re seeking it out, you can find the flower in Washington in almost any form: crushed, concentrated, liquefied, baked into an omelet. Puffing in public remains prohibited, but you can toke up at a wide variety of private events, enroll in a gardening class, or host a catered dinner party, where appetizer, entree and dessert are all “infused.” LeafedIn, a site that pinpoints consumers and vendors on city maps, shows downtown D.C. buried under cannabis leaf icons. There’s even one hovering over the White House.
For those who don’t partake, this world is largely invisible, if not odorless. And now that it’s summer, the humidity keeping all scents close, it’s ever more obvious: Washington is smoking more weed than you ever realized.
Stephen Sears, an academic librarian who lives on Capitol Hill, calls it “ghost weed syndrome” – that lingering sense of a scent, unmistakable but often untraceable.
Theoretically, we should all be much more blase about this – nearly 70 percent of D.C. residents voted for legalization. And yet the city’s sharp new fragrance remains a curiosity. Who’s that smoking? Where’s that coming from?
“You have to wonder if these older Capitol Hill denizens have been smoking this whole time,” Sears muses.
Like Platform 9¾ or the wardrobe that leads to Narnia, the portals to D.C. weed world hide in plain sight. Muggles walk right past them.”I’ve lived in this building for almost 20 years, and in the last month or so it’s smelled like weed all the time,” says Elizabeth Terry, a communications consultant who lives in Cathedral Heights. “I’m walking down the hall, sort of sniffing to figure out which unit it is.”
Elizabeth Thorp was puzzled when she picked up the scent in the plaza of a massive office complex near Chinatown. A nearby party? A leisurely lunch break? “Even in the suburbs of Bethesda, I hear that middle-aged people are partaking,” Thorp, who edits the women’s comedy and news site pypo.com, says.
Jen DeMayo caught a whiff while leaving Southwest Neighborhood Library, where she teaches a Tuesday-night yoga class. It seemed like an odd place to light up, but perhaps not: At least one D.C. yoga class incorporates marijuana as well as mindfulness.
Maybe these fumes are just what the District needs. “I like the idea of D.C. being on one big contact high,” mused Adam Goodheart, a D.C.-based writer. “Some member of Congress may be walking down the street, fuming about health care, getting themselves worked up into a partisan fury, and find themselves mysteriously mellowing.”
But who are all these people lighting up, just out of sight? The stoned and the sober often cross paths without knowing it, like characters in a Marx Brothers sketch. At 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, a group of young men passed a blunt on the steps of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Kyla Frank, passing out fliers for a tour bus company on the other side of the building, couldn’t figure out who was stinking up her mornings. “Why are you smoking this early in the morning?” she asked nobody in particular.
Walking her dog on a Monday night in Adams Morgan, Brianne Molloy said that she usually catches a whiff around here in the evening. She didn’t know who was doing the smoking, but just a block away, Mark Bebawy, the owner of Funky Piece Smoke Shop and Glass Gallery, was hosting a potent party in a basement restaurant that was closed for the evening. A man wearing a rubber whistle in the shape of a seashell emerged onto the street, holding a plastic baggie containing what he said was exactly the legally permitted two ounces of weed. “It’s the District of Cannabis,” he shrugs.
— By Maia Silber, The Washington Post
Here’s the complete list of where Pennsylvania’s 52 medical marijuana dispensaries will be
HARRISBURG, Pa. — State regulators recently announced the 27 entities that have been selected to operate dispensaries under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, a program expected to be up and running next year.
The Health Department said not all of them are currently opting to run three locations, so for now there will be 52 dispensaries scattered around the state.
The agency posted online the winners’ applications and the locations where they will operate.
Office of Medical Marijuana director John Collins said the process was competitive, with hundreds of quality applicants.
The entities that were issued permits will have six months to become operational and can begin providing the drug to patients.
A Health Department spokeswoman said they will start to implement the business plans they outlined in their applications, addressing aspects of operations such as security, transportation and employee background checks.
The state government will conduct inspections.
Last week, the state awarded permits to 12 applicants to grow and process medical marijuana.
The Pennsylvania medical marijuana law allows people who suffer from a list of conditions to obtain the drug as pills, vapor, ointment or liquid, but not in smokeable form.
The state expects patients and caregivers to be able to register in September.
All but six of the businesses are based in Pennsylvania. Two are from Arizona, three from Illinois, and one from New York.
— By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
Check out five more interesting cannabis stories from around the country this week:
- DJ Chelsea Leyland chats with Harper’s Bazaar about swapping Western drugs for CBD oil
- Hawaii’s largest worker’s compensation insurer is dropping coverage for its medical marijuana dispensaries
- Scientists map the receptor that makes weed work
- Ohio gets 185 applications to grow marijuana in the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program
- Scientists lay the groundwork for a reliable marijuana breathalyzer