MA Prosecutor: Can't Promise To Remain Hands Off On Marijuana

Jan 9, 2018

The top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts said this week that he can't promise to take a hands-off approach to legalized marijuana. The comments follow a change in federal policy on marijuana, and they come at a time when the Bay State is finalizing plans for the first recreational sales of the drug.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling was responding to concerns from supporters of legalization after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would encourage a tougher stance against marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level. 

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.

In Rhode Island, lawmakers have considered but never passed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, although the state has decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug. Rhode Island, like Massachusetts, allows legal sales of medical marijuana.

Elsewhere in New England, lawmakers in Vermont and New Hampshire are considering bills that would legalize recreational pot but would not allow retail sales of the drug. Maine residents voted to in favor of legalization, but the state's legislature has yet to create rules that would allow for retail sales.