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Fate Of Mass. Recreational Marijuana Sales Unclear After Federal Decision

It is illegal in Massachusetts to smoke marijuana in public.
File Photo
The Republican
A Marijuana Plant

The U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts has announced his office plans to pursue federal marijuana crimes and trafficking in the state. 

The statement by Andrew Lelling came after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was rolling back a directive from the Obama Justice Department.

That policy said the federal government would not stand in the way of states looking to legalize marijuana.

Lelling said his office wants to reduce violent crime, but did not directly address Sessions's policy change.

Lawyer Dick Evans helped draft the Massachusetts ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana, which voters passed in 2016.

"The issue facing Mr. Lelling, in my view, is not whether to shut down the marijuana industry," Evans said. "It's whether to shut down the regulated and taxed marijuana industry, and then move all production and distribution back underground. Certainly not even Jeff Sessions or the entire federal criminal justice apparatus can put the marijuana genie back in the bottle."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Governor Charlie Baker have both said the will of voters should be respected. 

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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