First, a disclaimer.
Yesterday’s Boston Globe Spotlight Team report on political influence in the Massachusetts Weed Bakeoff is a terrific piece of reporting.
Increasing their nut graf:
[S]o far, winning a license to sell pot in Massachusetts often seems to be determined by whom you know — or if you can afford to pay a lobbyist or consultant who knows people.
At least 12 of the 17 recreational pot stores open as of May 1 hired lobbyists or former politicians. The Boston Globe Spotlight Team obtained, through public records requests, thousands of e-mails relating to pot shop proposals in a host of communities. The fingerprints of influence peddlers — consultants, lawyers, lobbyists — are all over them.
This should be no surprise; it would be a surprise, in fact, if the influence business had taken a pass on the lucrative potential of pot. But the flood of former government officials coming into the pot business — including former governor and current presidential candidate William F. Weld, former state House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., former Boston city councilor Michael P. Ross and even former Boston police superintendent-in-chief Daniel Linskey — is striking.
Noticeably absent from that roll-your-own call: former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, even though the Globe itself recently noted his tokin’ contribution to the weedification of the Bay State.
Barney Frank joins local marijuana business
When it comes to marijuana, Barney Frank and Bill Weld were both decades ahead of the political curve.
Frank, the longtime former Massachusetts congressman, supported legalization when he was a state representative in the early 1970s. Weld, for his part, backed medical marijuana as the governor of Massachusetts in the early 1990s. (Neither proposal went anywhere.)
Now, it’s Frank who will follow in Weld’s footsteps by joining a marijuana company. But while Weld last year joined the board of a slick conglomerate with national ambitions, Frank is linking up with a decidedly less corporate operation: Beantown Greentown, a local group of underground growers, marketers, and event organizers — you may remember their 100-foot joint stunt — trying to go legit.
The hardreading staff is not at all sure why the Globe bogarted Barney in its otherwise impressive investigation.
But our interest is definitely high.