Deep in The Weeds With Daniel Part 2: Legal Cannabis Still Carries Threat of Criminal Charges
On July 1, businesses with the proper licenses can officially start selling recreational marijuana to anyone 21 years or older in Massachusetts. But the sale and use of marijuana carries a lot of restrictions, as well as resistance, depending on what part of the state you live in.
To break down the various complexities packed into the recreational marijuana law, Morning Edition’s anchor Joe Mathieu is sitting down with WGBH’s Daniel Medwed to flesh out a specific component each week leading up to the official opening of the recreational industry. This week, Medwed explains the sensitive line businesses owners have to walk as federal prosecutors still have the power to enforce national marijuana laws. Medwed also explains the difficulty of prosecuting someone for driving under the influence of cannabis.
The transcript has been edited for clarity:
Joe Mathieu: Now assuming that the retail pot stores are in compliance with all the regulations that have been drawn up, is there still a chance the feds could enforce federal marijuana laws and break them up to prosecute these operators?
Daniel Medwed: I think there’s a chance but I wouldn’t consider it a high one, pardon the pun. A federal law that has long criminalized the production and distribution of marijuana in ways that affect interstate commerce, that’s what gives Congress jurisdiction to develop those crimes. But in 2013 the Obama administration issued a memo called the Cole memo that basically said that federal prosecutors wouldn’t go after state operators of legitimate marijuana businesses in states where it’s been decriminalized as long as those operators are in compliance with state law and not distributing marijuana to juveniles, organized crime and so on.
Mathieu: Earlier this year President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that policy and announced that local federal prosecutors