OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Federal Marijuana Laws Never Changed
The marijuana advocates in Massachusetts are refusing to accept reality. The state legalized the recreational use of marijuana.The federal government did not legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Federal law supersedes state law, therefore, it is illegal to buy, sell, and manufacture recreational marijuana in any of the states of the United States.
Why all the confusion? The confusion begins and ends with the Cole memo. This memo was created by President Obama’s Justice Department and it essentially declared the federal government would no longer enforce marijuana laws. The law wasn’t changed, it just wasn’t enforced.
This lack of enforcement was viewed as a green light to marijuana enthusiasts and entrepreneurs and the underground came to the surface. State and local governments saw huge tax revenue potential in the illegal drug business.
All of this came to an end when Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared the Cole memo null and void. The AG didn’t change the law, he simply acknowledged the law. The AG can’t change the law, the Cole memo didn’t change the law, only Congress can change the law and Congress has not changed the law regarding the use of marijuana.
The marijuana advocates in Massachusetts are asking US Attorney Lessing for a special off the record, on the record Cole-type memo of their own. They want him to tell them that they can break long-standing federal laws regarding marijuana sales. They also want to be able to do it in full view of the public and advertise their crimes to consumers.
How can a reasonable person ask the US Attorney to ignore an illegal drug distribution operation that has a sign out front that says, “We sell marijuana here”?
Massachusetts is also proposing an affirmative action program for convicted drug dealers and their children. Under regulations proposed by the State Cannabis Commissions, a convicted drug dealer will be given preferential treatment when applying for a license to sell recreational marijuana. The offspring of convicted drug dealers get the same benefits over law-abiding citizens.
How can the federal government ignore a state and its citizens when they are in full rebellion against the law? Not only is Massachusetts openly violating federal drug laws, they are attempting to put the industry into the hands of convicted criminals.
(Editor's Note: Chris McCarthy is the mid-morning host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m.-noon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.)