U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, on Monday called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ elimination of rules that allowed states to legalize marijuana “an incredibly destructive thing to do.”
Sessions last week rescinded an Obama-era memo that said the Department of Justice would not prosecute marijuana users and businesses who were conforming with state law in states that legalized recreational marijuana use. Instead, Sessions is leaving it up to each U.S. Attorney how to prosecute marijuana crimes.
Massachusetts legalized marijuana on the ballot in 2016 and is currently in the process of creating rules to govern the new industry, with the first retail shops expected to open in July.
“States like Massachusetts are working hard to put sensible rules in place to deal with marijuana,” Warren said, speaking to reporters after an unrelated event at a Boston community health center.
“Jeff Sessions has left it up to the individual U.S. attorneys, but that creates a whole new level of uncertainty that makes it much more difficult for a state like Massachusetts to be able to finish and implement rules that Massachusetts believes are the safest rules and the best ways of dealing with marijuana,” Warren said.
Warren said during the 2016 ballot campaign that she was open to legalizing marijuana in order to more tightly regulate it.
U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said he will focus on prosecuting cases that involve “bulk cultivation and trafficking cases, and those who use the federal banking system illegally.”
Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 coalition that advocated for legalizing marijuana, on Monday called on Lelling to provide an unambiguous statement about whether his office will prosecute marijuana businesses or banks providing services to marijuana businesses that are complying with state law.