Massachusetts officially legalized recreational marijuana in a November 2016 ballot, however, we’re still ways away from seeing the industry in its entirety. While there has certainly been a number of promising results thus far, there have also been several roadblocks. Especially in terms of licensing and regulation.
However, there is some more good news on the horizon—sort of. US Attorney Andrew Lelling, Massachussett’s top federal prosecutor, gave the state’s burgeoning recreational sector a lukewarm endorsement. The prosecutor has promised to limit weed enforcement to the best of his abilities—so long as it doesn’t interfere with federal policy.
Massachusetts Federal Prosecutor Promises To Limit Weed Enforcement
Considering marijuana distribution remains a federal crime, Lelling refrained from saying he would give state-run dispensaries “total immunity.” However, he admitted his office would be focusing on opioids, rather than pot. The shift in priorities would effectively limit weed enforcement.
“Because I have a constitutional obligation to enforce the laws passed by Congress, I will not effectively immunize the residents of the Commonwealth from federal marijuana enforcement,” Lelling said. “My office’s resources, however, are primarily focused on combatting the opioid epidemic that claims thousands of lives in the Commonwealth each year.”
Lelling said his office will be focusing on three aspects of the burgeoning recreational business—”overproduction,” “targeted sales to minors,” and “organized crime and interstate transportation of drug proceeds.”
According to Lelling, overproduction of the plant can lead to higher black market sales. Essentially, it becomes a trickle-down effect
“These out-of-state sales are nearly always cash transactions and so often involve federal tax fraud designed to hide the illicit cash or its true source,” he explained.
What It All Means
Again, while Lelling, a federal employee, must adhere to the Federal guidelines, he’s doing his best not to step on the toes of Massachusett’s legal weed industry. David Torrisi, the executive director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, says Lelling’s role is, essentially, to squash illegal sales of the plant. If you’re operating your business under proper state sanctions, there’s no real need to worry.
“Targeting the opioid epidemic and, when it comes to marijuana, overproduction and distribution to minors are goals we totally support,” Torrisi said to Boston Globe. “What he’s really saying is that he’s going to target the illicit market. Businesses that pay taxes and invest in this industry are not going to jeopardize that investment by selling to minors.”
Lelling’s proactivity in sniffing out the underground market is certainly admirable. However, there’s a common belief that the legal weed industry won’t do much to deter black market sales. Regardless, it looks like Lelling is trying his best to support and regulate an industry in dire need of federal backing.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction.