At bill-signing, Tsongas urges Trump to focus on opioids, not marijuana
WASHINGTON — As questions swirl about the future of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts amid the threat of a new federal crackdown, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas used a public event alongside President Donald Trump to urge the administration to focus instead on opioids.
Tsongas and more than a dozen other members of Congress were gathered around the president’s desk in the Oval Office for the signing of the INTERDICT Act, which Tsongas and Sen. Ed Markey helped introduce. The legislation is designed to combat fentanyl trafficking. Attendees took turns making remarks about the bipartisan spirit displayed in the bill’s success and the need to address the spread of opioids.
But Tsongas went a step further.
“Mr. President, I appreciate your celebrating this bipartisan moment,” she began. “It’s a testament to what can happen for the benefit of the American people when we come together on a scourge such as fentanyl and the opioid addiction. And I encourage you to focus your efforts on further funding and thinking about opioids — and marijuana we can talk about at another time.”
There was some laughter.
“OK. That’s OK. That’s OK,” Trump replied before moving on to another representative’s remarks.
Tsongas was the only member of Congress to mention marijuana at the signing, which came six days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew an Obama-era policy and effectively opened the door for federal prosecutors to target marijuana markets in states where recreational use of the substance is allowed.
The sudden decision triggered a flurry of questions about how states such as Massachusetts, whose voters approved legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, would be affected.
Andrew Lelling, who became the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts less than a month ago, has said he cannot guarantee that any aspect of the