Could Massachusetts become a marijuana sanctuary state?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that federal prosecutors should go for the jugular of marijuana businesses. Ever since then, there has been a push to create “sanctuary” status for legal marijuana states. Alaska and California want to see this reform. And now, one New England lawmaker is pushing for a marijuana sanctuary state.
Massachusetts state representatives Dave Rogers and Mike Connolly have introduced a bill designed to stop Trump’s Justice Department from causing trouble for legal weed.
The legislation, arty titled the “Refusal of Compliance Act,” would prevent state law enforcement from cooperating with federal marijuana agents.
It would not, however, stop Massachusetts cops from working together with the Feds to take down illegal operations. The bill is designed to protect the law-abiding cannabis trade.
Representative Connolly says this piece of legislation is about respecting the will of the people.
“Massachusetts voters have gone to the polls and expressed their support for what I’d call a sensible drug policy and an end to marijuana prohibition,” he said.
“I can appreciate the parallel between this and more typical sanctuary-state-type stuff. I think the comparison is pretty clear. We are a state government responding to the will of our own voters and people in our community.”
But there is already some sanctuary protection in place. When Massachusetts’s voters approved recreational marijuana in 2016, the language included a separation of federal and state.
Basically, the law states that Massachusetts law enforcement cannot assist federal agents in prosecuting legal marijuana users.
But the new bill drives this concept home. It would create a defined stance against Sessions’ squirrely attitude toward legal marijuana.
Earlier this year, Sessions withdrew an Obama-era policy (Cole Memo) that has allowed states to experiment with legal marijuana.
Although the policy was never binding, it has allowed marijuana businesses to operate without much concern for prosecution.
But now that it is gone, the cannabis industry is uncertain about what could happen next.
Massachusetts is already a sanctuary state with respect to immigration laws. The goal now is to bring those ideas over to the realm of legal marijuana.
But lawmakers remain unsure whether the bill will pass. There is a possibility that some of the state’s “dry towns” might oppose the measure.
Yet, Connolly says, “even those municipalities that may have decided to limit availability in the immediate future still have some interest in seeing the policy go forward.”
Lawmakers are more concerned about sending a clear signal to the federal government—one that says leave our weed alone.
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