Roberta Schaefer: From the Right – Federal law takes precedence
Apart from the physical and mental damage that accompanies marijuana use such as structural changes to the brain, loss of motivation, and decreased attention span that I discussed in my April 16, 2016 column, several other issues have emerged which make the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts even more problematic.
First, on January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a trio of 2013 memos issued by the Obama Administration directing federal law enforcement not to interfere with the marijuana industry in states where it has been legalized.
Those directives did not alter federal law, which declared marijuana an illegal drug in 1970 and takes precedence constitutionally over any contradictory state law or presidential dictum. Accordingly, the US Attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, has indicated that he plans to pursue federal marijuana crimes as part of the Trump administration’s “overall approach to reducing violent crime, stemming the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantling criminal gangs, and in particular the threat posed by bulk trafficking of marijuana, which has had a devastating impact on local communities.”
Second, the conflict between federal law and state laws that have legalized marijuana has contributed to the threat of rising crime.
Since federal regulations prevent banks from accepting marijuana-related funds, the industry is cash-only. Safely storing and transporting stacks of cash derived from pot sales has become a major security issue. In one California dispensary (as recently reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune), customers must pass through a security gauntlet with highly-armed guards and several locked doors before entering a display room. When cash is removed from the premises, decoys carrying valises stuffed with paper are used to lure potential robbers. Armed guards must patrol the parking lot and neighborhood looking for criminals “casing” the dispensary.
Finally, there is no means of non-invasively identifying