Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Finally Says He Will Not Prosecute Marijuana Cases

The state of Massachusetts officially legalized recreational marijuana at the beginning of July, and the state is expected to begin allowing cannabis sales in the next few weeks. And now the U.S. Attorney overseeing the state has finally said the cannabis industry is safe from prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced he would not prosecute cases against legal marijuana businesses operating in Massachusetts. Lelling said he would continue going after illegal marijuana dealings, such as providing cannabis to criminal organizations or selling to minors, but otherwise would leave the industry alone.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy protecting marijuana businesses, many U.S. attorneys said they would continue not going after the cannabis industry. However Lelling was one of the few who said he would not rule out instituting a crackdown, and even in his recent announcement said he would still follow federal law as it relates to marijuana.

Lelling has also criticized legalization in several statements. He's accused pro-marijuana groups of underemphasizing the risks and called cannabis a "dangerous" drug. He also said he believes marijuana use by minors will skyrocket as a result of legalization, even though most studies of legalized states find that's not the case.

Still, it would probably be more reassuring if Congress passed a law officially protecting marijuana businesses instead of hoping U.S. attorneys will do the right thing.

(h/t Boston Magazine)

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Many are waiting for the next state to make the major step of legalizing recreational marijuana, and according to one state senator, the state to watch is New Mexico. New Mexico State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino says he believes a bill he recently introduced to legalize recreational marijuana will pass in the near future. A similar bill was introduced last year in the New Mexico state house, but it failed to get enough support.

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