U.S. Attorney General William Bar testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10. Image credit
There is no way cannabis advocates in the United States do not know former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He initiated a federal cannabis crackdown and was considered as a major political obstacle to cannabis reform and legalization efforts.
So when Sessions announced his resignation late last year, many in the cannabis industry took it as good news. They were happy to see their favorite anti-marijuana guy go.
But what about his successor and now head of the Department of Justice, William Barr? Does he oppose cannabis legalization as passionately as his predecessor?
Well, pro-cannabis advocates can heave a sigh of relief. Because A.G. Barr said that he favors a more lenient approach to marijuana laws.
A.G. Barr was testifying before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Department of Justice’s budget request for the fiscal year 2020 when he was asked to clarify the federal government’s position in enforcing drug policies in states where cannabis is already legal.
A.G. Barr said that he prefers for cannabis to be legalized throughout the country rather than have states continue to fly in the face of the federal government’s prohibition.
He further described the conflict between state and federal laws as “intolerable,” and said that taking out the federal government from the equation and allowing the states to implement their own cannabis policies would be an improvement over the current scenario.
A.G. Barr also testified that he is accepting the Cole Memorandum for now, but that he has generally left it up to the state attorneys to determine the best approach for them.
The Cole Memorandum was a Justice Department memorandum issued by then-U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during former President Barack Obama’s administration. The Cole Memo governed federal prosecution of cannabis-related offenses and stated that the department would not enforce federal prohibition in states that legalized the drug in some form due to limited resources. Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo in January 2018.
However, the Republican A.G. Barr made it clear that he still opposes federal cannabis legalization. Thankfully, the New York native’s approach to the issue is still a direct contradiction to Sessions’ approach. Sessions was constantly quoted as having said that “good people do not smoke cannabis.”