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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Monday, January 8, 2018

Statement By U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling Regarding Federal Marijuana Enforcement

I understand that there are people and groups looking for additional guidance from this office about its approach to enforcing federal laws criminalizing marijuana cultivation and trafficking.  I cannot, however, provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.


This is a straightforward rule of law issue.  Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute and/or possess marijuana.  As a law enforcement officer in the Executive Branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law, guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution.  To do that, however, I must proceed on a case-by-case basis, assessing each matter according to those principles and deciding whether to use limited federal resources to pursue it. 


Deciding, in advance, to immunize a certain category of actors from federal prosecution would be to effectively amend the laws Congress has already passed, and that I will not do.  The kind of categorical relief sought by those engaged in state-level marijuana legalization efforts can only come from the legislative process.

Updated January 8, 2018