Mitchell: AG’s Marijuana Decision ‘Doesn’t Change Our Plans’
NEW BEDFORD — On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded three Obama-era memos that essentially meant the federal government would take a "hands off" approach and would not interfere with state laws that decriminalized or even legalized marijuana.
While Sessions has not outlines exactly what his plan is against marijuana on the federal level, his decision does create a conflict between the federal government and the states that have voted for legalized marijuana, including Massachusetts.
Here in the Bay State--and especially in New Bedford, where the City already has plans in place for a medical marijuana dispensary and a cultivation and processing plant--a federal crackdown on marijuana sales could lead to a lot of lost revenue.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell called Sessions' decision "disruptive" to the burgeoning industry.
"Whether you like it or not, it's going to cause some business owners and the people that finance those businesses some pause whether to go forward," he said. "How that plays out over the next few months remains to be seen. But I think ultimately, Congress has to step in and figure out what's acceptable in the way of the retail sale of marijuana nationally."
Governor Charlie Baker said Sessions made the "wrong decision," and that Massachusetts will continue as planned with the implementation of recreational marijuana sales, as voted on by the people.
Mitchell said Sessions' decision also won't change any plans in New Bedford.
"It doesn't change our plans at all, but it might change the plans of the businesses themselves," Mitchell said. "Put yourself in the position of a commercial bank, or another lender, that might look at this and say, 'I might be prosecuted for money laundering if I'm financing an operation whose business is illegal under federal law.' That's the inherent problem here. It's not even so much whether the business is illage at the federal level, per se, it's the fact that all these businesses are financed by folks that have a lot of money, and institutions that have a lot of money, and might think twice about doing that."
"That, to me, is where the confusion is going to play out," he said.