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- New Attorney General Barr Pledges Not to Bother Legal Weed Businesses
If he had his way, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions likely would have shut down the legal marijuana industry. His successor seems a bit more reasonable.
On February 14, the Senate voted along party lines to confirm William P. Barr for a second stint as attorney general. While Barr, who previously held the post during from 1991 to 1993 under President George Bush, will undoubtedly be busy handling oversight of the Justice Department and the ongoing Mueller investigation, his stance toward legal cannabis is intriguing — especially compared to that of his prohibitionist predecessor.
While Barr has said that he doesn’t personally support marijuana legalization, in a recent meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), he said that he wouldn’t target marijuana businesses who operate according to state legalization laws. His statement echoed those he made during his confirmation hearing in January, then later reiterated in writing.
“I’m not going to go after companies that have relied on Cole memorandum,” Barr said. “However, we either should have a federal law that prohibits marijuana everywhere, which I would support myself because I think it’s a mistake to back off marijuana. However, if we want a federal approach — if we want states to have their own laws — then let’s get there and get there in the right way.”
Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment aptly noted that Barr’s comments “are a welcome development, and a break with his predecessor.”
As we’ve previously discussed, Sessions — who has said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” — rolled back the Cole Memo in January 2018, essentially giving federal prosecutors across the country carte blanche to decide individually who should be prosecuted when it comes to possession, distribution, and cultivation of pot in states where the drug is legal.
But while Sessions gave prosecutors the power to go after the pot industry, he stopped short of directing them to step their efforts. Without such a mandate, the confusion produced by conflicting state and federal marijuana laws is only more, well, confusing.
Barr’s stance — coupled with President Trump’s parting of the ways with Sessions and Sessions’ stance on the matter — is a good start toward clearing up the confusion.
Stay tuned to The Sugar Leaf for updates.