OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Mass Criminals Control Cannabis?
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is still giving convicted drug dealers an Affirmative Action bonus to own a legal pot business.
The CCC voted on Monday to delay the licensing of on-site marijuana consumption businesses, as well as home delivery businesses. They didn't want to do the delay, but they buckled under the pressure put on them by Governor Charlie Baker, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and every District Attorney in the Commonwealth. A bipartisan team of heavyweights was able to slow the pot lobbyists and their allies on the CCC on this narrow aspect of what will be a multi-billion dollar industry.
The specter of the federal government is still lurking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hates marijuana and thinks it is only “slightly less dangerous” than heroin. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has told the pot lobby that he can't promise them he will allow them to operate in full violation of federal drug laws. He doesn't seem to want to prosecute the legal pot industry, but I suspect he is hoping they will be smart enough to not antagonize AG Sessions and force his hand.
The Cannabis Control Commission appears to not understand--or not care--what the possible reaction of the federal government could be to the fledgling pot industry. Yesterday, they decided to continue their policy of treating convicted drug dealers as the preferred distributor of legal recreational marijuana. A convicted drug dealer can't get a liquor license in Massachusetts, but the CCC wants to give them control of this new legal intoxicant.
What happens when the people who proved already they willfully disregard the law on drugs continue in their proven pattern of behavior? What happens when marijuana from legal businesses in Massachusetts starts showing up in neighboring states that still outlaw the substance in a manner consistent with federal law? What happens when a convicted drug dealer sells his legal marijuana to a person under 21 years old, and the local authorities make it public?
The answer to these questions: Jeff Sessions happens!
The legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts is in jeopardy from the federal government already. Trusting convicted drug dealers to handle the distribution of cannabis is foolish. The voters of Massachusetts didn't vote to legalize recreational marijuana just to see it turned over to convicted criminals.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.