Category Archives: Massachusetts

Patrick’s new economic bill: NonCompetes, H-1BVisa and Liquor Licenses

Deval PatrickGovernor Deval Patrick is shaking things up with the economic bill he shared last week that aims to make doing business in Massachusetts easier.

The big headlines include his desire to eliminate noncompetes and creating a “global Entrepreneur in Residence” program to allow foreign students to work at Massachusetts start ups as a way to work around the restrictions associated with H-1B visa program.

However, I was more excited to read that Deval Patrick’s plan also give cities and towns greater control over the number liquor licenses in their communities by ending existing statutory limits.  This is long overdue and I hope it is successful. Now we just need the MA Sate legislature to pass these initiatives so Patrick may sign them into law.

Medical marijuana business symposium

potThis Saturday the National Cannabis Industry Association will host an all-day CannaBusiness Symposium here in Boston.

Denver-based, Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, is an event sponsor.  The firm has indicated that in light of state’s legalization of medical marijuana they plan to sign a Massachusetts licensee to cultivate marijuana and manufacture and distribute its products here.  All this talk about cannabis-friendly edibles makes me wonder what sort of snacks will be handed out at this program.

Details here.

20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses granted

potAlthough it will likely be summertime before any medical marijuana dispensaries in MA open their doors for business, twenty licenses were granted by the State today.

The State’s Department of Public Health approved marijuana dispensaries in: Ayer, Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Dennis, Fairhaven, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Mashpee, Milford, Newton, Northampton, Plymouth, Quincy, Salem, Taunton and Worcester.  I couldn’t find the addresses of where these will be in those communities, but I’m sure there’ll be a lot more about this forthcoming.

Spencer Trappist Ale

Spencer Trappist AleWhen people think of local brewers, Sam Adams most likely comes to mind although the region does have an excellent collection of  brewers that deserve attention.  Last weekend NPR reported that there is one more brewery out in Western MA that may be worth checking out if only for the novelty. Spencer Trappist Ale has started selling their ale in Massachusetts this week, although I’ve not been able to identify where. UPDATE: In Boston, you can get this at Social Wines in Southie.

I associate the Trappist monks in Western MA with making delicious preserves so I’m intrigued. Apparently St. Joseph’s Abbey is only one out of ten Trappist abbeys worldwide to make ale and the only one outside of Europe.  More about this story can be read here.

Chris Remmes explores run for state representative

Chris RemmesLong time friend and resident of Charlestown, Chris Remmes, announced his intention to explore a campaign for the 2nd Suffolk State Representative seat held by Eugene O’Flaherty.

Chris Remmes, Charlestown Democratic Ward Chair and civic activist, to explore run for State Representative

I do not live in Charlestown or Chelsea (the district Chris seeks to represent), but I’ve known Chris for more than a decade.  We first met at The AIDS Action Committee back in 2002 as regular volunteers. While I’m unfamiliar with the issues important to residents of Charlestown and Chelsea, I am familiar with is Chris’ excellent work ethic, his caring nature and great listening skills. He is a hard working, smart man of integrity and when he announced his intention to explore a run for State Representative I wanted to make sure I gave him a shout out on to let others know about Chris’ intentions.

If you live in Charlestown or Chelsea or if you would like to help Chris Remmes as he contemplates a run to unseat Eugene O’Flaherty, get involved / make a donation here.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts

potToday is the deadline for 158  qualified applicants seeking to open medical marijuana dispensaries in the state to submit their proposals.

Under the law, each county will have at least one and a maximum of five dispensaries; a total of 35 locations for the state have been approved. Cities and towns are not allowed to permanently ban dispensaries, but they can zone where they can be located.  This second phase of the application process will now go before a committee that will score applicants on such factors as ability to meet the health needs of registered patients, appropriateness of the site, geographic distribution of dispensaries, 
local support, and plans to ensure public safety.

The chosen applicants will be notified early in 2014.

Know your (Gay) history: 10 years ago today

Same Sex Marriage10 years ago today Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a ban on gay marriage is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Opponents made doomsday predictions about how this would harm traditional marriage and lead to problems with children raised in same-sex households.  History has proven those arguments were nothing more than barely concealed homophobic rantings.  

I would imagine the fact that the very, very gay friendly state of Massachusetts having the lowest divorce rate per capita in the United States is a very inconvenient truth for those who continue to oppose same sex marriage on the basis that it harms the institution of marriage.

Justice Margaret MarshallWant to read more about this topic? Check out The Boston Globe’s recent article, A decade after Mass. ruling, gay marriage gains.

The price of weed

marijuanaWebsite is a self-described crowd sourcing site to help determine the street value of marijuana by receiving feedback from consumers. HuffingtonPost was so taken by the data that they created this interesting infographic in last week’s article, Here’s Where To Find The Cheapest Weed In The US.

Makes me wonder what sort of tax revenue this could generate?

Why I’m voting for Carl Sciortino

Photo Credit: Seth Rau

Photo Credit: Seth Rau

Carl Sciortino is an openly gay progressive candidate who champions social equality and justice causes. So when Carl announced that he would run to fill Ed Markey’s (D-MA) seat in the US House of Representatives, I immediately knew I’d be voting for him.

However, some of you may not know who Carl is and after I saw his campaign video featuring his Dad, I thought this was the perfect opportunity / excuse to give Carl a plug on my blog.

State shares list of nearly 200 marijuana dispensaries

potLast week the state’s Department of Public Health released a list of nearly 200 applications for marijuana dispensaries around the state; including 21 applications for Suffolk County here in Boston.

The public health department is conducting a two-phase application process. Qualified applicants will be eligible to proceed where a selection committee will conduct an in-depth review and select dispensaries through a competitive process.  The department is expected to approve up to 35 dispensaries by the end of the year, including at least one, but not more than five, in each county.

State cap on alcohol licenses for restaurants looks to be rescinded

SterlingsToday, At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, filed a home rule petition to eliminate Massachusetts cap on alcohol licenses for restaurants.  

Currently, new licenses issued cannot be transferred and must return to the City if the restaurant is closing but it will grandfather existing licenses so that current owners may retain the ability to sell their license in the future if they choose. Lastly, this home rule will close the loophole that ties a license to a location rather than a business.

“The time for legislative action is now; cities should have control over the alcohol licensing process,” Pressley said. “It’s time for us, not the state, to determine how to economically revitalize our neighborhoods.” 

To this I can only say”Amen”.  Previous efforts to increase the number of licenses under the cap have failed.  This is the first time I’ve read about anyone trying to remove the cap.

Next Steps: The petition must be voted on by the City Council where it will hopefully pass and be signed by the Mayor.  Following that, both the State Senate and House will need to vote before being signed by the Governor.

Fingers Crossed.

For more information: Jessica Taubner (617) 635-4217

Happy Anniversary Massachusetts

Same Sex MarriageNine years ago today Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to perform same sex marriage.  At the time, the majority of the country made a pariah out of “liberal Massachusetts” saying our state was making a mockery of the institution of marriage.

Fast forward nine years later and Massachusetts continues to have one of the lowest divorce rates of any state in the US and the majority of Americans now support same sex marriage.  Additionally, all six New England states now recognize and perform same sex marriage in addition to  Washington, D.C. and five other states. Much work remains, but the progress is undeniable.

Happy Anniversary to all those couples who got married nine years ago.

My stay-cation in Concord, MA

Recently I wrote about Merchant’s Row at the historic Concord Colonial Inn, which is situated in Concord, MA quaint town center.  Concord is approximately 30 minutes northwest of Boston by car and is also easily accessible by commuter rail.  After spending a night at the Colonial Inn, I started to think about how this New England town makes for a romantic overnight or day trip.Concord Colonial Inn

Earlier this year I wrote about how more gay and lesbian couples are opting for different travel destinations. While most of my travels showcase larger cities and more traditional gay destinations, for those looking for an easier and more affordable get away, Concord, MA may appeal.  Steeped in history, The Concord Colonial Inn will be celebrating its 300th Anniversary in just three years.  Concord, MA Downtown

If an overnight isn’t feasible, try the Inn for lunch or dinner,  although there are several other dining options in the town center too. In addition to food and shops, historic Walden Pond is just a short distance away and easy to get to by bicycle.  I’m still a city kid at heart, and I’ll be obsessing about getting to Ptown once summer hits but Concord was more fun than I would’ve ever expected.  If you are new to New England or curious to explore the area, consider  heading up for a night or an afternoon. The town is very progressive and LGBT-friendly.Concord, MA Downtown

Milken Institute ranks Massachusetts tops (again)

massachusettsIt is time to report about something positive rather than the horrors associated with the Boston Marathon so I am happy to share this story about Massachusetts.

While my home state doesn’t have internationally recognizable towns like Beverly Hills or addresses like Fifth Avenue, Massachusetts is an affluent state.   Much of this wealth is derived from the state’s investment in industries like technology that pay wages far higher than the average income.  So while some may be surprised to read that Massachusetts achieved the top spot (again) on an index ranking states by their technology and science capabilities compiled the Milken Institute I’m not.

The Milken Institute is a California-based think tank that evaluates R&D investment, risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, and the skill of a local work force to  draw up its rankings.  Their calculations measure a state’s success at converting those assets into businesses and high-paying jobs.  So while Silicon Valley in California deserves its role as top dog as America’s technology epicenter, the Massachusetts juggernaut continues to pay dividends that lift a rising tide for many in my state and I’m kind of proud of that.

Those investments didn’t happen by accident, and I hope Massachusetts continues to make those investments so we can maintain this leadership, because while we’ll never be Hollywood or Fifth Avenue, I like the fact that an opportunity for a better life and access to higher paying careers are more readily available here than just about anywhere else in the US.

Marijuana dispensaries could open by end of year

marijuana_leafLast week The Boston Herald reported medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts could open by the end of the year.   Despite lobbying from those claiming marijuana is a “gateway drug”, last November 63% voters approved legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The ballot initiative won in a jaw-dropping 349 out of 351 communities state-wide.

While this might be a divisive position, I would like decriminalization of marijuana and state regulation of this substance. I find far fewer issues associated with marijuana than I do with alcohol and think this would prove to be an excellent source of tax revenue.  What do you think?