Legal retail sales of the drug were to begin in MA this year under the terms of a voter initiative passed in 2015.
Following Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to rescind the Cole Memo, which protected canna-legal states from federal prosecution, MA U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling released a statement warning that his office "will aggressively investigate and prosecute bulk cultivation and trafficking cases, and those who use the federal banking system illegally", MassLive reports.
The announcement immediately sent ripples through the state and nation, where other USA attorneys have offered softer, if not more reassuring, responses for those operating in states where marijuana use and sales have been legalized.
"I wouldn't do that, no", Trump said.
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"I don't believe the federal government has any right coming in here to try to enforce marijuana laws, and I believe it ought to be left up to the state". "If you're a person looking to come into MA and to open up a cannabis business, I'm not sure what type of message that sends, what type of security that gives you, or lack of security, I should say", House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.
In 2013, then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a guidance that changed marijuana enforcement following state ballot initiatives that legalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.
Mr. Trump has enough problems in his Department of Justice as it is.
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"I am calling on every member of Congress to take up the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances".
The Obama-era policy has generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal.
The Yes on 4 Coalition, which spearheaded the 2016 ballot campaign, had publicly called for Lelling to provide "clear, unambiguous answers" to several questions, including whether his office would prosecute businesses that are granted licenses by state cannabis regulators to grow, produce, test or sell marijuana legally in MA.
"This is a straightforward rule of law issue", said Lelling. "But if the citizens of this state, if they choose to pass that during the next election cycle, then certainly as the next attorney general I would do everything I can to ensure the will of the people is upheld".
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Sessions said he will leave it up to local federal prosecutors to decide whether to go after people involved in the marijuana trade in states such as Massachusetts, California and Colorado, which allow legal, recreational sales of the drug. Most recently, the bill was set to expire in September 2017, but has been included in the two-month continuing resolution, followed by additional extensions through January 19, 2018, of the federal government's comprehensive spending plan.