Massachusetts federal prosecutor: opioids, not pot, are priority

BOSTON (Reuters) – Massachusetts’ new federal prosecutor said on Wednesday he will not rule out prosecuting marijuana businesses in a state that has legalized the drug, but stressed that his focus is on the opioid epidemic.

“The No. 1 enforcement priority for my office is the opioid crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “As I was pointing out to someone the other day, 2,100 people in Massachusetts were killed by opioid overdoses last year, not marijuana overdoses.”

Lelling sought to clarify his stance on marijuana prosecutions in the first press conference in his new role after Republican President Donald Trump’s administration rescinded an Obama-era policy easing federal enforcement in states that legalized the drug.

Massachusetts is among nine U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, which remains illegal under federal law. State voters in 2016 backed an initiative legalizing its recreational use and retail sales could begin later this year.

But on Jan. 4, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy put in place under Democratic President Barack Obama that limited enforcement of marijuana laws where the drug had been legalized….

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