After Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice announced they would rescind the Cole memo and direct U.S. attorneys across the country to resume their prosecution efforts of marijuana “offenders,” many wondered how the states that had already legalized would handle the directives. State and local law enforcement in Massachusetts, the first East Coast state to legalize cannabis, isn’t leaving anything up to the imagination.
Should the federal government pursue law-abiding marijuana businesses in the Bay State, they’ll be missing a critical component of federal investigations and arrests — the support of Massachusetts state and local police.
While U.S. attorneys across the country have said their hands are tied, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is coming out strongly against the move.
Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, who leads the Massachusetts State Police oversight, told the Boston Herald, “We have a state law that we’re intending to enforce, and the state law was voted on by the people of Massachusetts. We have no intention of raiding a pot shop that is legal under state law.”
The state police aren’t alone in their resolve to resist federal pressure to crack down on state-legal marijuana businesses, either, as Boston Police Department Detective Lt. Michael McCarthy echoed a similar stance to his “statie” counterparts.
“Similar to our position on immigration, the BPD will not actively enforce federal marijuana laws at the local level,” explained McCarthy. “We will continue to enforce local drug laws to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
The public defense of the recently established marijuana industry comes after the state’s U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling offered little more than a cloud of doubt. Lelling made a statement that he couldn’t guarantee the law-abiding business owners making up the state’s cannabis industry would be able to avoid federal scrutiny.
The Cannabis Control Commission, the governing body of the legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts, will forge ahead as planned. The commission must finish developing the regulatory framework that will guide the entire market when it opens for business July 1.
If the feds do decide to bring down the hammer of prohibitionist justice on these East Coast cannabis pioneers, at least these New Englanders won’t have to worry about it coming from their state or local law enforcement — for better or worse.
Today, the mayors of many major cities across the country unified in their resistance to the Department of Justice’s recent policy change:
— Tom Angell 🌳📰 (@tomangell) January 11, 2018
Image courtesy of Tony Webster