You might recall that once upon a time, if you went to a gas station, you were there primarily for gasoline and car service.

Here might have been a soda machine in the office or maybe a display of candy bars.

Now, as you well know, there is so thin a profit margin in selling gas that for many “gas stations” it is simply part of the service they offer. The real money is in convenience items and food.

Liquor stores have a similar history. Go into any package store and what will you see? Chips, soda, candy bars and other snacks.

The addition of the Massachusetts Lottery products decades ago gave many retailers another way to attract customers and make additional money.

The issue is today many retail businesses need a boost that comes from selling other products than their primary one, and attract walk-in business by being a lottery agent.

According to the State House News Service, now at least one cannabis retailer has inquired to the Cannabis Control Commission that they are interested in applying to sell Massachusetts Lottery products.

I can’t blame them. With increasing competition in too many communities from an over-saturation of retailers and the struggle between locally owned shops and multiple-state operators, I can see why an additional reason or two to come into a cannabis dispensary may be necessary.

Colin A. Young of the News Service wrote, “‘It sounds like maybe there’s a licensee who’s anxious to start doing this or wants to do this, and I can appreciate their interest in seeing some action by the commission. So, again, I don’t want to say no,’ Commissioner Bruce Stebbins said last week. ‘But I think it involves 1) more of a discussion with our counterparts at Mass. Lottery, as well as, I think, a broader discussion for this commission about where we actually want to play a role as the industry is maturing, what do retail establishments begin to look like.’

“Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said during Thursday’s meeting that she would not have supported the request had the commission been asked that day to vote, ‘but it’s because of the broader implications.’ She agreed with Stebbins that the question was really a more broad one about what non-marijuana products should be sold at marijuana establishments.”

“She said she ‘wanted to make sure we at least begin that conversation and started to kind of consider the next steps.’”

The CCC has been known lately for a public struggle for leadership and for moving like the slowest glacier imaginable when it comes to addressing issues. I think sometimes the commission members forget that Massachusetts dispensaries that are close to a border, such as those in Springfield are competing for customers across state lines.

If New York or Connecticut decides its dispensaries could sell state lottery products or other items — wouldn’t snacks be a logical choice? — how would that affect sales here?

Since the commonwealth has made lottery products available to other kinds of retailers, why not dispensaries? I can’t think of any good reason to prohibit an ancillary product expansion.
Let’s see how fast the CCC acts.

What’s going on, Gov. Healey?

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is an astute politician, so I was interested when he noted at the Forest Park Civic Association meeting on March 3 that money approved by the Legislature for a project at Forest Park has not been released by Gov. Maura Healey.

In fact, Sarno said that if former Gov. Charlie Baker was still in office, this wouldn’t have happened.
I’ve since been told that Springfield’s plight is repeated in other communities. Money approved by the General Court is not being released by the governor. Other projects are at a standstill.

I realize Healey has made some mid-budget cuts, but my impression is there hasn’t been much communication with local leaders about allocated funds.

I’m hoping the Healey administration will be more effective in the future in communicating the reasons behind such actions.

G. Michael Dobbs has worked for Reminder Publishing for 23 years of his nearly 50-year-career in the Western Mass. media scene, and previously served as the executive editor. He has spent his time with the publisher covering local politics, interesting people and events. The opinions expressed within the article are that of the author’s and do not represent the opinions and beliefs of the paper.

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