On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling released a statement explaining that while federal authorities would still enforce drug laws, their main priority would be to tackle the opioid epidemic currently ravaging the Bay State.
“Because I have a constitutional obligation to enforce the laws passed by Congress, I will not effectively immunize the residents of the Commonwealth from federal marijuana enforcement,” Lelling said in the statement. “My office’s resources are primarily focused on combating the opioid epidemic that claims thousands of lives in the Commonwealth each year.”
The prosecutor said that he anticipates limiting federal prosecution to three specific cannabis-related crimes: overproduction, organized crime and interstate trafficking, and sales to minors. “This list is not exclusive, but only intended to clarify which aspects of the state-level marijuana industry are most likely to warrant federal involvement,” he wrote. “What he’s really saying is that he’s going to target the illicit market. Businesses that pay taxes and invest in this industry are not going to jeopardize that investment by selling to minors Targeting the opioid epidemic and, when it comes to marijuana, overproduction and distribution to minors are goals we totally support.”
Shaleen Title, one of five members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, said that she “Appreciates” Lelling’s statement, and noted that the state has already put regulations in place to address all of the issues he brought up.
In order to prevent overproduction of weed, which could end up on the black market, the state has created cultivation caps for businesses, limiting each cultivator to 100,000 square feet of cannabis grows. Any company that fails to sell at least 85% of its weed will have its total limit reduced, in order to curb the temptation to offload excess product illegally. The state also has plans to send undercover employees into retail establishments to test whether the stores are properly checking that customers are of legal age.