Published in the June 10, 2016 edition.


The town recently held an event called “Wakefield 101,” an orientation session for new residents to give them a chance to talk to representatives of town departments, community organizations and local businesses.

The idea was to help new residents get the lay of the land and to give them a heads up on how we do things here in Wakefield. The first such session was by all accounts an unqualified success.

So successful, in fact, that the state might want to consider stealing the idea, and not just offer it to new residents of the Commonwealth. Things are changing so fast that even lifelong Massachusetts residents may soon need an orientation to figure out what’s going on in the new Bay State.

They could call it “Bay State 101,” but perhaps you can come up with a more descriptive title. (Is “Brave New World” taken?)

Just for starters, we likely will soon be living in a state where plastic bags are outlawed but marijuana is perfectly legal.

The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a provision that would ban plastic shopping bags at stores statewide. Meanwhile, voters are expected to approve legalizing marijuana for recreational use when it appears on the Nov. 8 election ballot.

So it’s very likely that later this year getting stoned out of your mind will be legally sanctioned but getting a plastic bag for your store purchase will be a crime. There are people alive today who can still remember a time when drugs were bad and useful products of human (dare I say American?) ingenuity were good.

As a result, Massachusetts residents may need re-orientation sessions to help them remember that when they walk into a convenience store wasted on legal weed they cannot expect to get a plastic bag for their Doritos.

I haven’t smoked pot in a long time, so that could explain why the aforementioned scenario seems backward to me. I’m confident that my Bay State 101 re-educators will clarify the issue. Perhaps passing around samples at the re-orientation sessions would help.

Like Wakefield 101, Bay State 101 will feature representatives of businesses. Meet your friendly local marijuana dispensary operator, who will remind you that marijuana is a natural, harmless plant that springs forth from the earth, dude.

Try to refrain from mentioning that plastic bags are made from petroleum, which  also comes from the earth and has lifted millions out of poverty and hunger by making it easy to grow more food and transport it great distances. (And short distances too, like from the store to your house – in a handy plastic bag!)

Remember, you’re not there to argue. You’re there to learn.

Besides, that attitude will only get you labeled as a narrow-minded Neanderthal who probably still thinks there are only two genders.

Trust me, you don’t want to go there.