Massachusetts‘ top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, announced on Tuesday that he will focus his cannabis enforcement efforts on the overproduction and diversion of products into other markets, “targeted” distribution to minors, and organized crime, the Boston Globe reports.
Notably, Lelling is not giving the industry a blanket exemption from federal laws but still plans to focus the efforts of his office on combating the opioid epidemic, not state-legal cannabis entrepreneurs.
“I will not effectively immunize the residents of the Commonwealth from federal marijuana enforcement. My office’s resources, however, are primarily focused on combating the opioid epidemic that claims thousands of lives in the Commonwealth each year.” — U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, in a statement
In January, Lelling announced — much to the dismay of cannabis advocates throughout the state — that he could not “provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”
Cannabis advocates praised Lelling’s recent announcement.
“I’m thrilled the U.S. attorney put out such a statement. Targeting the opioid epidemic and, when it comes to marijuana, overproduction and distribution to minors are goals we totally support. …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.” — David Torrisi, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, in an interview with the Boston Globe
Some advocates hope Lelling’s announcement will ease the concerns of local officials who cite the federal prohibition of cannabis as reason to ban the industry on a local level.
“Hopefully people at the municipal level who were hesitant because of what’s going on federally get the message. [Lelling’s announcement] could absolutely improve access to the product.” — Kamani Jefferson, president of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumers Council, in the report