Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board Members Largely From Pro-Pot Cities

Aug 8, 2017

All but two of the 15 people appointed to advise marijuana regulators in Massachusetts reside in cities and towns that favored the legalization of recreational pot.

Governor Charlie Baker, state Attorney General Maura Healey and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg this month each picked five people for the Cannabis Advisory Board; an additional 10 members are specifically named by title in recently passed legislation.

Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael, Jr. and business advisor Mary Ann Pesce of Weston both reside in communities that voted against legalizing recreational marijuana. They were appointed by Baker, who campaigned against the 2016 ballot question.

Carmichael is also an outspoken critic of legalizing marijuana.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken," Carmichael said to The Walpole Times after voters approved the measure in November. "We just changed the environment and the landscape in Massachusetts forever."

Western Mass. Appointees

Three appointees come from cities in the state's four westernmost counties.

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, who leads the SPARK entrepreneurship program in Holyoke, and Ray Berry, the chief executive of Springfield-based White Lion Brewery, were each appointed by Attorney General Maura Healey. Baker appointed Henry Thomas III, who serves as president of the Urban League of Springfield.

Murphy-Romboletti said it's important that the advisory board pays attention to the interests of the state's western region as well as Eastern Mass.

"Making it as easy as possible for us to share some of the economic benefits that other parts of the state are able to access [is important," she said. 

Murphy-Romboletti is a former aide to Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who was the first mayor in the state to endorse the marijuana ballot question.