Many have worried that the recent decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind protections for states with legal marijuana laws would harm cannabis businesses around the country. To prevent this, one state could become the first "marijuana sanctuary state."
A new bill proposed in the Massachusetts legislature would prevent state and local authorities from contributing resources to marijuana-related investigations. While the state can't prevent the FBI or other federal agencies from pursuing investigations in the state, this bill would force them to rely solely on their own resources and not receive help from Massachusetts law enforcement.
This bill is a first-of-its-kind and would essentially make Massachusetts the first marijuana sanctuary state. A sanctuary state or city is usually used to refer to immigration, where the state or city refuses to help the federal government identify and deport people in their jurisdictions. This would be the first time similar actions were made towards cannabis.
The current U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling says that his priority will be prosecuting opioid cases, but he has also said that the cannabis industry could undergo scrutiny since the drug is still illegal at the federal level.
The bill would need to be approved by the Massachusetts House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats. It would then need approval from Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican. Baker has said he does not support Sessions' recent policy change, but has not indicated if he would support a bill similar to this one.