If the feds bust any local pot shops, they’ll be on their own — state police and Boston cops will not assist in any crackdown on businesses that are legal under state law, local authorities said.
Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, who oversees the state police, told the Herald yesterday, “We have a state law that we’re intending to enforce, and the state law was voted on by the people of Massachusetts. We have no intention of raiding a pot shop that is legal under state law.”
Boston police spokesman Detective Lt. Michael McCarthy told the Herald in a statement last night: “Similar to our position on immigration, the BPD will not actively enforce federal marijuana laws at the local level. We will continue to enforce local drug laws to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Earlier this week, Massachusetts-based U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement he could not guarantee the medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational pot shops, cultivators and customers would be immune from federal prosecution. This comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo that shielded businesses in states that had legalized marijuana.
Unlike Colorado’s U.S. attorney, who explicitly said there would be no change in enforcement in the state, Lelling’s statement has stoked fears and increased uncertainty over the possibility of a federal crackdown on Bay State pot shops.
“I cannot … provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution,” Lelling said on Monday.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to respond to Bennett’s remarks yesterday.
State officials, including the Cannabis Control Commission, have said they plan on moving forward with developing regulations for recreational use ahead of a July deadline.
Walpole police Chief John Carmichael, who is on the state’s Cannabis Advisory board, said Lelling’s statement could indicate a crackdown is coming.
“When you say that no certain entity is getting immunity, that’s saying not only is home cultivation and cultivation on public lands is a violation, but cultivation on a cultivation site or a dispensary is a violation,” Carmichael said.
State and local police, Carmichael said, have their hands tied, and are bound to enforce Massachusetts laws. If there is a crackdown, he said departments like his that have officers assigned to regional and federal drug task forces could be caught in a conflict between state and federal law.
“This is definitely one of the barriers,” Carmichael said.
Also yesterday, Bennett said the exit of a major debit card payment processor from the Massachusetts medical marijuana industry could set up a safety risk for dispensaries that are now forced to only accept cash.
“Whenever there’s a cash industry that involves drugs, you’re always going to have a concern about that,” he said.
Several dispensaries wrote on social media this week they would only accept cash from patients.
“Each individual dispensary will have to take the necessary steps to ensure their patients are being served in a secure setting,” said David Torrisi, executive director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association. “It’s primarily an inconvenience, but the security issue is real.”
Source: Boston Herald