What Does Trump AG Pick William Barr Mean for the Cannabis Industry?

William Barr attorney general cannabis
William Barr attorney general cannabis

WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Trump has announced that William Barr will be his nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as the U.S. Attorney General. Sessions voiced his opposition to legalized cannabis often and became a lightning rod for the cannabis industry.

Barr has already served in the role as U.S. Attorney from 1991-93 under President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Barr’s record will undoubtedly be examined by many as he plans to join an administration with potential legal troubles. The focus of the media and his critics may be on his views of presidential powers and the Russian investigation, but his views on The War on Drugs may leave many worried about the future of legal cannabis.

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Barr pushed and succeeded in instituting harsher punishments for drug offenders in the early 90s. He also once said that it was “simply a myth” that there were “sympathetic people” and “hapless victims of the criminal justice system” in prisons, according to David Krajicek at Salon.

In a letter of support for a book released by his Justice Department in 1992, Barr claimed that “there is no better way to reduce crime than to identify, target, and incapacitate those hardened criminals who commit staggering numbers of violent crimes whenever they are on the streets.”

While Jeff Sessions drew the ire of almost the entire cannabis industry, reactions to Barr have been a bit more muted, though some are expressing concern.

“Some of Barr’s past work and statements are extremely troubling for criminal justice reform advocates, though it is hard to tell where he stands on federalism issues at this point,” Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director at NCIA, a national cannabis trade association told mg.

“Hopefully he will look at the successful track record that has resulted from the DOJ not wasting money prosecuting cannabis businesses that are following state law, listen to the federal prosecutors in those states who wisely directed their limited resources elsewhere, and let the cannabis industry continue to divert money away from the unregulated illicit market,” Fox continued.

NORML, the most widely recognized cannabis advocacy group also came out to voice their concerns over Barr.

“In 2018, five states legalized either the medicinal or adult-use of marijuana, making the total number of states out of compliance with the Controlled Substances Act now 47,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a statement. “It would be utterly absurd for William Barr or any agent of the Department of Justice to take any action against these state-sanctioned and operational programs.”

“In 2018, five states legalized either the medicinal or adult-use of marijuana, making the total number of states out of compliance with the Controlled Substances Act now 47. It would be utterly absurd for William Barr or any agent of the Department of Justice to take any action against these state-sanctioned and operational programs,” Strekal continued.

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