Mariano: Guardian angels

They stand watch like guardian angels protecting and caring for infants so small and so vulnerable that it’s hard to imagine that, one day, these tiny spirits will most likely grow into chubby-cheeked little babies.

Cannabiz: Potential billion-dollar industry had its pot stirred in Worcester

Massachusetts’ effort to legalize marijuana had an aspect of its origins in Worcester, where James Smith, a former state legislator turned consultant, met up with Matthew Huron, a Coloradan and CEO of Good Chemistry with local roots who had come to Massachusetts to assist with the legalization effort.

Today, marijuana is legal and some medical marijuana dispensaries have already sprung up, including Worcester County’s first dispensary, Cultivate Holdings, which opened for business in Leicester on Dec. 1.

The past week brought more news from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission: The panel passed preliminary approvals to allow specialty marijuana cafes and bars that would allow the use of pot products on site; would allow restaurants, cinemas, yoga studios and other businesses to apply for licenses to host the sale and consumption of marijuana-based products in specific areas within their establishments; and permit pot to be home-delivered.

Canal District medical marijuana shop to follow a Coloradan path

She is from Colorado, and last year was named one of the 50 most important women in the cannabis industry. And now she is coming to Worcester.

Meg Collins will be opening one of the city’s four medical marijuana shops – hers will be located in the Canal District. She will bring expertise from operating a similar facility in Colorado and through her work as vice president of public affairs for Good Chemistry, a Colorado-based nursery company that describes itself as “… dedicated to creating the world’s finest cannabis.”

Collins said Massachusetts’ marijuana skeptics should give the new industry time. In a short while, she predicts, they will be won over by its professionalism and profit margin.

“I have worked with many communities to make sure they are educated and confident in what they are doing,” she said in an interview with the Worcester Sun. “Proprietors need to see it as their role to make their communities comfortable with what they are doing.”

UMass docs tackle key problem in liver transplant process

Last July, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) asked for public comment on a proposal to reform the liver transplantation system in the United States. The plan, “Enhancing Liver Distribution,” proposed placing a 150-nautical-mile-radius sharing circle around donor hospitals.

The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors approved the proposal earlier this month, although no implementation date has been established.

Dr. Adel Bozorgzadeh, chief of the Organ Transplantation division at UMass Memorial Medical Center, was critical of the plan.

“This is really not necessarily as helpful to our region at all, because if you put Boston and draw a circle around it, half of that circle is in the ocean. You know, where am I going to get livers out in the ocean? There are sharks; there are not humans,” he said.

As of Dec. 1, there were 14,086 people nationwide on the official liver transplant waiting list, according to the UNOS. The most recent data by its partner organization, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR), shows that in 2015, 1,673 patients died awaiting a liver transplant, 6,474 received the transplant, and 14,047 remained on the waitlist by year’s end.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 224]: Finding homes for the holidays … and beyond

Through diligence, determination and the generosity of local grant makers, Worcester has in recent years become a big-city leader nationwide when it comes to curbing homelessness.

That trend, though, is beginning to head in the wrong direction and City Manager Ed Augustus has vowed to nip the negative momentum in the bud.

All about public service, Hitch thinks he’s found a perfect spot for shelter in the Canal District.

Wagner: Puritanism or Positivity? ‘Young Goodman Brown’ comes of age

Worcester can still play a role in celebrating an open, healthy, sex-positive culture, but let’s also use the moment to see something clearly: Sex and love are separated at great cost. Literature has instructed us quite clearly on this, and it would be at our peril that we abandon the great lessons of the likes of Hawthorne — and Shakespeare and Sappho, too.

Sina-cism: Remembering the Benchley brand of humor

At book club last week, a friend gave me a copy of Nathaniel Benchley’s 1955 biography of his father, comedian Robert Benchley, who remains — more than 70 years after his death — one of Worcester’s most famous funnymen.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The biography is a delight, recounting Benchley’s life with an unerring eye for a good story, deep affection, and as much objectivity as can be expected from a son writing about his father.

For those unfamiliar with the basic outline, Benchley was born Sept. 15, 1889, and attended Worcester schools, including South High, before heading to Phillips Exeter Academy to complete high school. At Harvard University, he acted and wrote for the Harvard Advocate and Harvard Lampoon. There followed a long and successful career as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and Hollywood actor, ending with his death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1945.

Three generations of the Benchley clan have made their mark in American letters and film.

Editorial: Deepening into the season

This, right now, is surely the biggest, most bustling time of the year.

All of a sudden, it’s mid-December. Lots of people who are usually on top of things are counting the days until Christmas with disbelief. Seriously, nine days? Then eight, seven, six, five … ? Yikes. Just yesterday it was weeks away — we thought!

Mile-long to-do lists cram into pockets, quicken steps, intrude on thoughts. Millions are on deadline, and there’s nothing they can do about it except get the priority items accomplished. (Mall visit — check! Mixing bowl, cookie cutters, sprinkles, bake, cleanup — check!)

Unlike many of the rest of the year’s commitments that you can sort-of fudge once in a while, Christmas is a doozie, and it never takes a snow day or other delay. Usually there isn’t even a snooze button that morning. Dec. 25, 6 a.m. or 7, it’s showtime at last … and over too fast!

Worcester Weekly: ‘Winter Reimagined,’ Worcester Youth Orchestras concert + more, Dec. 16-22

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Sunday, Dec. 17 — Family Holiday Concert, 4 to 6:30 p.m., Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St.  Get your fill of seasonal music and the enthusiasm and talent of the young at this popular Worcester Youth Orchestras event. You could have gotten an afternoon meal with wine, too, but the table-service tickets are sold out. Waah. But even from the cheap seats you’ll see City Manager Ed Augustus guest-conduct “Sleigh Ride” — and for once, city councilors won’t be grading his job performance.

The Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra, WY Philharmonic & String Orchestra, WY Wind Ensemble, WY Jazz Band and the Shepherd Hill Regional High School Choirs will perform. There could be a singalong or two, too.

Tickets (balcony) are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Free for ages 18 and under.

For more information

Lapidus and Pedraja

The Quad [Dec. 16-23]: Four things to know from Anna Maria, Becker, QCC and Fitchburg State

Have campus news you or your college or university organization would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to send a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and point Sun members your way.

Anna Maria presents Christmas Festival Concert Dec. 17 in Worcester

The Anna Maria College Music Department will present its annual Christmas Festival Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. The concert will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church, 551 Pleasant St., in Worcester.

The concert will feature the school’s Concert Chorus, Chamber Choir and Wind Ensemble. The concert is free and open to the public.