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Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Won’t Rule Out Federal Charges Against Canna-Businesses

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, who was appointed by President Donald Trump and assumed office in December, told reporters yesterday that while opioid crimes are his top drug enforcement priority, he could not rule out bringing cases against canna-business operators and employees, the State House News Service reports. The comments come less than a month after Lelling released a memo saying he could not “provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”

Moreover, Lelling said that while members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission have sought to meet with the prosecutor, the Justice Department “won’t allow” him to meet with the agency responsible for drafting the rules for the voter-approved adult-use cannabis industry.

“This office will pursue federal marijuana crimes as part of its overall approach to reducing violent crime, stemming the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantling criminal gangs, and in particular the threat posed by bulk trafficking of marijuana, which has had a devastating impact on local communities.” – Lelling, during a press conference

Lelling, however, noted that he doesn’t believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to micromanage state prosecutors, but that his office should pursue “ambitious cases.”

Earlier this month, 19 attorney generals from 17 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam – including Massachusetts’ Maura Healey – sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to advance legislation that would allow cannabis operators to access financial services.

Adult-use sales in Massachusetts are expected to begin in July.     

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