Legislature Passes Comprehensive Marijuana Legislation


July 26, 2017

BOSTONRepresentative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature recently to pass a bill that fully implements consumer access to adult-use marijuana while creating a robust public health and safety framework.

This legislation maintains the personal use provisions outlined in the 2016 ballot initiative. Adults 21 and older can use marijuana and possess up to one ounce in public and ten ounces at home. They may possess six plants per person but no more than 12 plants or ten ounces per residence.

“This bill reflects a commitment to legalizing adult-use marijuana while upholding our duty to ensure safety and effective management,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “In addition to the rigorous product testing and security measures, I believe that the independence of the Cannabis Control Commission will allow this new industry to be implemented in a safe manner that works for all residents, not just the marijuana industry.”

In an effort to support the Commonwealth’s municipalities and allow for the creation of local bylaws and ordinances, this legislation includes compromise language regarding local control.

  • If a municipality voted in the negative for the 2016 marijuana ballot question, the decision to prohibit or restrict marijuana establishments will be determined by the municipality’s governing body until December 2019
  • If a municipality approved the 2016 marijuana ballot initiative, the number of marijuana establishments can only be limited through a local referendum.

“This bill integrates several key components from both the House and Senate proposals,” said Representative Meschino. “Most notably, it allows for municipalities to retain local control and to manage the marijuana industry in their own communities. Additionally, this bill protects Massachusetts’ youth by allocating industry revenues to substance addiction prevention and treatment, as well as early intervention services through school grants.”

To promote strong oversight and accountability for the regulation of adult-use marijuana, this legislation creates an independent five-member Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) which will be housed under the Office of the State Treasurer. The CCC will be charged with overseeing the application and licensing process, including a review of the integrity of licensees, their financial stability and qualifications both during the application process and on an ongoing basis. It will promulgate regulations for the implementation, administration and enforcement of adult-use marijuana, and will make regular inspections of licensees.

The CCC will study participation and, if needed, adopt diversity licensing goals to provide meaningful participation of communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition and enforcement and development training programs to achieve impactful industry participation by minority individuals, women and veterans. This legislation removes the head start for businesses already licensed for medical marijuana so that all individuals and businesses have a fair shot at entering this industry. The CCC will be required to encourage participation by farmers and small businesses, including providing lower priced licenses and the ability to form cooperatives to small cultivators.

The composition of the CCC reflects the broad expertise and autonomy necessary to regulate this new industry including appointees with expertise in public health, public safety and corporate management. These appointments will be made by the governor, attorney general, treasurer, respectively.

This legislation prioritizes consumer safety and public health. As such, this bill includes the strongest testing standards in the nation and gives the CCC oversight of testing laboratories. It requires all labs to be independent from marijuana establishments and mandates alignment with pharmacy standards for purity. While the legislation maintains the personal use provisions, it also adds liquor license penalties for sales to people under 21 including social host language.

Under this legislation, the CCC will consult with the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to establish standards for the cultivation, processing, manufacturing and distribution of marijuana, including guidelines for food products.

The CCC will also establish standards for packaging, potency or dosing limitations, seed to sale-technology and security for cannabis licensees. Requirements include:

  • Certified child-resistant packaging and opaque containers.
  • Regulations regarding advertising, marketing and branding, including:
    • Advertising is only permissible in markets where at least 85 percent of the audience is over 21;
    • A product cannot be identified as safe other than CCC-regulated labeling.
  • Bans retail shops near school zones.
  • Licensees must have a publicly available software application to track and trace all marijuana cultivated, process, or manufactured, from seed-to-sale.
  • Edible marijuana products will have a single serving limit of 10 mg of THC and cannot resemble any non-marijuana food product currently sold.
  • Labeling to indicate that a product is or contains marijuana, and the amount of THC in the product.

The total taxes and fees collected from recreational marijuana can add up to 23 percent.  State revenues collected from the marijuana excise tax, as well as fees generated from application fees, will be directed to the newly-established Marijuana Regulation Fund. The Fund will finance the CCC and the designated programs outlined below. Any additional money will revert to the General Fund.

  • Substance addiction prevention and treatment;
  • Substance addiction early intervention services through school grants;
  • Public safety including an awareness campaign established by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security;
  • Public health
  • Programing for restorative justice, jail diversion and workforce development for economically-disadvantaged individuals in communities disproportionately impacted.

Up to 6 percent of gross sales, up to 3 percent from the local optional tax and up to 3 percent for the optional impact fee, will go to the host community.  6.25 percent is the sales tax, which goes to the transportation fund, the school building fund, and the general fund.

Given the difficultly of detecting if someone is driving under the influence of marijuana or other narcotics, this legislation establishes  a special commission to conduct a comprehensive study and make recommendations regarding enforcement.

Under this legislation, the medical marijuana program will be updated and brought under the auspices of the CCC. This consolidation will help ensure a timely launch by streamlining oversight and leveraging existing experience and resources. 

For the first time, industrial hemp will be statutorily recognized as an agricultural product that may be cultivated, possessed, processed, bought or sold, and researched. MDAR will oversee industrial hemp as an agricultural product. Any person growing industrial hemp must be licensed by MDAR.

The bill will be sent to the Governor for his signature


Op-ed: Hull is On the Front Lines of Climate Change Battle


July 10, 2017

On a clear day, you can stand atop Allerton Hill and view nearly the whole town: down Nantasket Beach towards Cohasset and out across the Atlantic Ocean, with lobsterman skirting the horizon of Hull Bay. Hull, Massachusetts, a narrow peninsula jutting out from the mainland just south of Boston proper, has always held a strong connection to the ocean and Nantasket Beach has long been a treasured destination for those in the region hoping to get closer to the sea.

Despite a celebrated history, Nantasket Beach has recently been suffering a fate like that of many beaches across the Commonwealth. Many of our state's beaches have been slowly, and quite literally, losing ground to rising sea levels and increasingly frequent, intense storms. On Nantasket, the beach’s seawall protects the town from pounding surf and storm surges; yet, accelerates the beach’s erosion over time. Photos from the early days of iconic Paragon Park only confirm this fact: the ocean is slowly but surely encroaching on the shoreline and the beach is slowly but surely being scoured away.

The town of Hull has been forward thinking about its coastal issues and released its first Coastal Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Study, prompting similar studies in neighboring towns. Familiar locations such as Cohasset Harbor and Hingham Square are also threatened; adaptation studies predict inundation during storm surges and rising tides.  The consensus is the continued, unchecked effects of sea level-rise will have severe impacts on the homes, business, and natural resources of our coastal communities.

Yet we have reason to be hopeful, as there is proven economic potential embedded in climate change mitigation. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center reports that more than 100,000 residents hold clean energy jobs in Massachusetts. These jobs fuel an $11.8 billion industry, cover 2.5% of the Gross State Product and make up 2.9% of the state’s workforce. What's more, the clean energy sector continues to grow each year. And this doesn’t even begin to consider how clean energy enervates other business sectors.

Hull has taken great strides transitioning into clean energy. Today, the town is proud to host Hull Wind I and Hull Wind II, which collectively generate an impressive 12% equivalent of its total energy use. Together, these turbines produce 660 Kilowatts and 1.8 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. Since coming online, they have produced over 29 million kilowatt-hours. This is equal to removing CO2 emissions from over 2 million gallons of consumed gasoline, over 4,000 cars on the road, or nearly 2,220 homes.

But of course, it is hard to ignore the opportunity of clean energy when the waves are quite literally pounding at your door.  Ultimately, it was the ocean that prompted Hull residents to ask the inevitable question:  what can we do to protect our community?  To answer, Hull made a community commitment to clean energy. And the economic benefits have followed – low, stable electric rates, tourism from across the globe, energy conferences, and new ideas for innovation. Though Hull is only a small community, it is also a community on the front lines, experiencing firsthand the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Through this they have come to recognize that investing in clean energy and climate change mitigation can preserve key economic drivers, like their popular beaches, and open the door to future economic growth fueled by innovation.

Although only a few fond remnants of Paragon Park can still be spotted along Nantasket's shores, the town continues to draw hundreds of thousands of people year round.  Hopefully, visitors will be able to enjoy this thriving oceanfront long into the future, and the area will continue to reap the economic benefits. In the end, it will be up to us.

State Representative Joan Meschino represents the Third Plymouth district, which includes Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and North Scituate. Meagan Greene is the program director of the Alliance for Business Leadership.


Rep. Joan Meschino Assembles Seniors, Providers, Advocates for Elder Services Listening Tour


March 26, 2017 

COHASSET – Representative Joan Meschino (D – Hull) convened seniors, service providers and advocates for a focus group this week to discuss ongoing issues facing seniors in her communities. The meeting, Representative Meschino said, will play an important role in shaping her advocacy for seniors through the ongoing legislative process and the upcoming state budget debate.

“Too many seniors are forced to choose between staying in their homes, paying for their medical care and keeping food on the table. Still more have difficulty accessing transportation and staying connected with their community,” said Representative Meschino. “I’m looking forward to working with local advocates and providers in order to meet the needs of our older residents.” Representatives from the Hull Senior Center, Cohasset Elder Affairs, Hingham Elder Services, Scituate Council on aging, Linden Ponds, and Wellspring  were all in attendance.

“As the House of Representatives prepares to take up the state budget next month, I am particularly concerned about protecting services for seniors,” said Representative Meschino. “Cutting or underfunding vital programs that provide housing, fuel assistance, transportation, food assistance, and other services will devastate seniors who are already struggling to balance their needs with their checkbooks. I will continue to work alongside advocates and other members of our communities as I fight for more funding and effective services for our district.”

Seniors represent about one in six residents of the Third Plymouth District, which Representative Meschino has represented since her swearing in this past January. The district consists of Hull, Cohasset, Hingham, and North Scituate.

Prior to her election last year, Representative Meschino served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a public interest law center that promotes equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents. She has also served on the Hull Board of Selectmen, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's Executive Committee, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, and the Hull Capital Outlay Committee.

This meeting was one part of a longer listening tour that the Representative will be continuing over the course of her term. She plans to use these meetings as opportunities to listen to her constituents, to gain insight into the broad range of issues they face, and to better understand what role she may play in working to combat these issues.


Representative Joan Meschino Announces Committee Assignments for 190th General Court


January 25, 2017

BOSTON - Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) received her official House committee assignments for the 190th General Court of the Commonwealth. The three joint committees will enable the Representative to be an influential voice on a key set of issues that are importance to the 3rd Plymouth District and the larger South Shore economic region.  The committees she has been assigned to are:

Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses

Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy

Joint Committee on Transportation

House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight

“I’m eager to serve both our communities and the Commonwealth on these four committees” said Representative Meschino. “The committee assignments provide me with the opportunity to advocate for relevant and urgent issues for our district.”

“I am particularly eager to serve on the Joint Committee on Transportation. As the South Shore continues to develop, reliable and affordable transportation is of utmost importance,” said Representative Meschino.  “I look forward to working with the Commonwealth to improve its struggling transportation system and to continue my strong advocacy for reliable transportation to support our region’s economic development, a top priority for me.”


State Representative Joan Meschino Advocates for more Women in Politics


January 23, 2017

BOSTON - Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) was proud to join more than 175,000 women at the Women's March in Boston on Saturday. Marchers from all over Massachusetts and New England assembled in solidarity with women in over 600 sister marches across the world. The March, which advocated for a host of social justice, environmental, and women’s issues, was an important first step toward unifying our communities and creating positive change through grassroots engagement.

Representative Meschino attended to show support of not only the women of the 3rd Plymouth district, but of the entire Commonwealth and country.

Representative Meschino said, “It was an honor to stand side-by-side with the women of my community on this historic day to call for respect, dignity, and equality for women. This march stands as a testament to our ability to organize in an impactful and peaceful way.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Attorney General Maura Healey addressed the crowd.  Also in attendance was Representative Stephen Lynch.

In her continued effort to advocate for women’s issues, Representative Meschino participated on a panel Thursday night sponsored by the Women's Bar Association in partnership with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus entitled, "Running for Office: The Inside Story." The event - which was was well attended by both women and men seeking to run for public office - focused on the issues that women have faced in the political world.

Representative Meschino was one of four panelists who discussed their experiences in politics and the challenges they have faced along the way. Other panelists included, Lydia Edwards who ran for the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senate District; Lori Ehrlich, State Representative for the Eighth Essex District; and Brianna Sullivan, who ran for State Representative for the First Essex District. The event was coordinated by Ann Bookman, Director at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMASS Boston.

“Though women have made great strides in breaking into the political sphere over the last few decades, there is much work to be done.” Said Representative Meschino. “Events such as this are essential in that they encourage women to get involved in politics. We deserve more women in politics.”


South Shore Coastal Legislators Host Winter Storm Preparedness Meeting


January 9, 2017

MARSHFIELD—Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues, Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth), and Representatives Jim Cantwell (D-Marshfield) and Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), to meet with state agency officials and South Shore public safety officials to discuss issues of winter preparedness. Coming at the tail end of Massachusetts's first serious winter storm, this preparedness meeting proved timely. Among the topics discussed were what resources are available to communities, how communities can request support, and how communities can promote individual preparedness for winter storms.

The meeting, held at Ventress Hall in Marshfield, provided an opportunity for key state agencies, local public safety officials, utility companies, and other entities to describe their role and responsibilities in preparation for and during winter storms. Furthermore, these agencies were able to relay the challenges they frequently encounter as well as how to best support town officials and residents.

Representative Joan Meschino (D -Hull) said, “As our coastal communities continue to feel the effects of climate change, sea level rise, and worsening storms, it will be increasingly necessary that we encourage the communication and situational awareness needed to ensure that our communities are prepared for anything that may come our way. This meeting was a great first step forward.”

“It is great to have so many stakeholders and emergency preparedness personnel come together to discuss the challenges our coastal storms can present, said Senator Patrick O’Connor. “Each year as the intensity of our winter storms increase, proper communication and preparation becomes even more valuable. I’m sure everyone that attended this meeting walked away with some great information.”

“As always, I continue to be impressed by the great work our town officials perform as they organize and implement safety precautions in preparation for and duration of a storm event,” said Rep. Jim Cantwell. “Our community public safety experts are true professionals who are well prepared to address the challenges of winter storms and totally supportive of all our residents.”

"This meeting exemplifies the dedication our local public safety officials have when preparing for emergencies. Our local officials continuously improve on their already outstanding preparedness practices to ensure our communities are ready for the inevitable winter storms" Rep. Cutler said.

Also in attendance was the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, Dan Bennett, as well as the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Deputy Director Christine Packard. Secretary Bennett and his staff provided an overview of services that the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) can provide towns.  Deputy Director Packard spoke to the process by which resource requests from towns are addressed.


Joan Meschino Prioritizes Senior Citizen Needs


October 17, 2016 

Contact: Laura Burns

HULL— “Senior citizens who’ve contributed to the vibrancy of their communities for decades are entitled to support and assistance that will help them continue to thrive,” said Joan Meschino, Democratic nominee to succeed former State Representative Garrett Bradley. Her plans focus on senior tax credits, transportation, and senior centers.

Meschino will continue Bradley’s practice of mailing an annual reminder of allowable state income tax deductions. “Every year, some seniors are surprised to learn they can claim a refundable credit for real estate taxes on their state income tax returns,” said Meschino. “Garrett Bradley’s annual informational mailer has helped many seniors claim credits for which they qualify.”

In addition to making seniors aware of existing programs, Meschino said she will work to help towns revise tax structures to help them remain in their homes and not be priced out of neighborhoods they’ve called home for many years. “Property tax bills are among their greatest challenges,” said Meschino. “I don’t think we’ve done everything we can to alleviate this burden. Seeking new help for seniors is a major goal for me.”

Access to adequate and appropriate transportation is another challenge for seniors who reside in suburban neighborhoods, said Meschino. “I will work to protect funding for The Ride because many seniors depend on this MBTA program for shopping, medical appointments, and social activities that contribute to their continued physical and emotional well-being,” she said. “I will work closely with state agencies to implement creative solutions to their transportation challenges.”

Meschino said she’ll help the senior centers in Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, and Scituate meet 21st century needs. “Hingham is planning a new, expanded senior center. I pledge to help make it a reality,” she said. “I’ll support the senior centers in our district to ensure they continue their good work.”

Meschino Says More Funds for Community Libraries Are a Must


October 12, 2016

Contact: Laura Burns
781 749-0880

HULL— “Robust funding for public libraries is essential to vibrant local communities, because libraries enrich our communities in a myriad of ways,” said Joan Meschino, Democratic candidate for State Representative in the Third Plymouth District.  “We have a responsibility to increase funding for operations and for capital projects to ensure that community residents enjoy lifelong learning for years to come,” she said. “I look forward to working with our libraries in the district to guarantee adequate funding for the future.”

“Libraries are a gateway to information and exploration and must keep pace with their ever-expanding role as a trusted resource for research, literature, and programs that inform, entertain, and inspire members of our community,” she said. “Community libraries are particularly important to low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes.  The local library is often essential for news, public information, and for a job search for residents without access to a smart phone or a computer at home.”

Today’s libraries must reflect our changing world and evolving technology. “Our public libraries play a vital role in the information age,” said Meschino.  “We must level the playing field by providing access for every citizen, particularly those who lack the means to acquire new technology and must rely on public access to this essential resource.” 

“The library is where we first come together as toddlers for story hours and where our children and grandchildren carry on this tradition today,” she said.  “It’s a center for lectures, concerts, and art exhibits, for book discussion groups, and for meeting up with neighbors.  Contrary to speculation that the internet might supplant libraries, the opposite has occurred,” Meschino said. “The public library has become a transformational place where people of all ages go to learn, grow, and socialize.”

Meschino Will Lead the Fight to Cap Future MBTA Fare Increases


September 25, 2016

Contact: Geri Spanek


Contact: Laura Burns

HULL— How much is too much? Joan Meschino, Democratic candidate for State Representative, knows the answer to this question. 

“The nine percent average fare increase imposed by the MBTA on July 1 is excessive and creates an unnecessary financial burden for South Shore commuters who rely on boat and rail service to travel to work, school, medical appointments, downtown Boston, and Logan Airport,” said Meschino.                  

Government should encourage the use of public transportation instead of making it less accessible and more expensive, she said.

“When I served on the MBTA Advisory Board I was a vocal opponent of the fare increase and I have advocated for fare reductions,” said Meschino, a member of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, an organization that promotes sustainable transportation by coordinating transportation funding programs and advocating for transportation finance reform. “I will lead the fight to cap future fare increases at no more than five percent every two years, if elected. This is a priority.”

When commuter fares take a bigger bite from household budgets, the result across-the-board is less disposable income to help fuel the local economy, said Meschino. “More money spent on tickets and monthly passes means less money spent at locally owned businesses, such as coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, other retail establishments, and service providers,” she said.  

“Fare increases also force commuters back into their vehicles,” said Meschino, a former Hull Selectman and lifelong district resident. “The result is more traffic and greater dependency on fossil fuels. This creates more air pollution, increasing the risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.”

Meschino is a leading proponent of more state funding to support public transit. “Making public transportation a more viable option will increase ridership,” she said. “Commuter boat service is especially important to this region and should expand to other communities.”

Funds to Protect Our Fragile Shoreline a Top Priority for Joan Meschino


September 18, 2016

Contact: Geri Spanek

Hull—Joan Meschino, Democratic candidate for State Representative, plans a comprehensive initiative to seek grants and other funding to help protect Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, and North Scituate from rising sea levels and continuing coastal erosion, if elected. Meschino is currently a member of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, which has completed more than $20 million in capital projects, including Quincy Shore Drive, since its inception in 2006.

“This district includes many miles of coastline, and we will continue to experience destructive storm surges and rising sea levels,” said Meschino, a Hull native who served two terms as a Hull Selectman. “Planning and executing proactive, protective measures is far more efficient and cost effective than simply cleaning up after major storms pound our fragile shoreline.  And here in New England, we know that these storms will continue to occur, like it or not.”

Reducing greenhouse gases, a major contributing factor in global warming and the resulting rising sea levels, is also a priority for Meschino.

“The evidence that sea levels will continue to rise and disrupt lives and threaten homes and businesses is indisputable,” said Meschino, an attorney and former executive director of Massachusetts Appleseed, a public interest justice center that promotes equal rights and opportunities by developing systemic solutions that eliminate social justice inequities. ”The ripple effect of climate change begins with greenhouse gases that cause rising sea levels that, in turn, can and do damage our infrastructure and threaten public safety with potential for serious injuries and fatalities.”  

Meschino encourages everyone to use the climate change toolkit on her website to learn more about topics such as how climate change affects communities, greenhouse gas reduction strategies, and how marketplace reforms and increased energy efficiency make new gas pipelines unnecessary, at http://joanmeschino.com/climate-change.