As Spring arrives, it's exciting to see the city come to life once again. I wanted to write about two recent issues facing the city. The first is regarding a medical marijuana dispensary. As most of you know, several years ago, Cambridge voted overwhelmingly (79%-21%) to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. As someone who recognizes the importance of natural medicines as well as a holistic approach to healthcare, I believe that the use of marijuana for those that suffer from certain conditions can be a necessary part of treatment and healing. The reason that approving a zone for such a dispensary is so challenging is because of the many federal, state, and municipal laws that are in place governing these kinds of things. The petitioner, Sage Cannabis (that company which has petitioned the city of Cambridge to re-zone a small parcel of land so that they may operate) has met every requirement asked of them and have gone out of their way to accommodate the city with our requests for information. I expect that Sage Cannabis will be a good partner to the city and for the many patients that are in need of this kind of medicine. I have met with the CEO on several occasions and my aide, Dave Mattei, has visited their headquarters in Milford, MA and we have both been very impressed with their level of professionalism. In the video below (1min. 31sec.), I briefly remark on the matter.
The second issue is regarding municipal lobbying. My friend and colleague, Councillor Jan Devereux sponsored a policy order which requests that all professional lobbyists (those individuals who represent business and labor interests, like real estate development companies, unions, or even medical marijuana dispensaries) disclose their campaign contributions, the names of their clients, the policies that they tried to influence, their compensation received, and the dates of their lobbying communications. There are many other cities that have implemented similar laws including Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Philadelphia, and San Francisco because it represents a level of transparency and openness which is important in government. Part of the reason that I sponsored a policy order related to campaign finance reform last term, and the reason that I cosponsored this policy order is because it allows us, as officials, to inspire a greater level of confidence in the democratic process, which for too long has been mired in pessimism and suspicion. I was joined in affirmative votes by Councillor Devereux and Councillor Mazen, to send this policy order directly to the City Manager, however, similar to that of my previous campaign finance efforts, this policy order was voted against, and rather than being sent to the City Manager, it was sent to the Government Operations Committee where it will likely receive little attention. Below is a video (20min. 28sec.) in support of the municipal lobbying effort.