BOSTON — The Latest on reaction in Massachusetts to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding Justice Department policy on states that legalized marijuana (all times local):
Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor says his office will “aggressively” pursue serious marijuana crimes but isn’t directly addressing the state’s legal recreational pot law.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling issued a statement late Thursday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department was rescinding a previous policy that allowed legal marijuana to flourish without interference from federal prosecutors in states, like Massachusetts, where it is permitted.
Lelling, who took office last month after being nominated by President Donald Trump, said his office would “aggressively investigate and prosecute” cases involving the bulk cultivation and trafficking of marijuana. His statement makes no reference to the state’s voter-approved law, but does say his office would use “prosecutorial discretion” in enforcing federal law.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission, in charge of regulating recreational and medical marijuana, said it would press ahead with implementing the state law despite the Sessions announcement. The first pot shops in Massachusetts are slated to open later this year.
Massachusetts marijuana regulators say “nothing has changed” for them after a shift in official U.S. policy toward legal pot.
The Cannabis Control Commission said Thursday it will continue to fulfill the will of voters by implementing the state law that allows for the sale and adult use of recreational marijuana.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions planned to announce Thursday he was rescinding an Obama-era policy that allowed legal marijuana to flourish in states that permit it, and will allow U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws in states.
The five-member cannabis commission is finalizing regulations that will allow Massachusetts’ first commercial pot shops to open this year.
A spokesman for Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said Baker believes Sessions made the “wrong decision” and he supports implementation of the state law.