Attorney General Nominee Promises to Back Off of Cannabis in Legal States

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, provided mixed comments about legal cannabis on Jan. 15, but promised to “not go after” businesses in states that have legalized cannabis.

Businesses that operate within the realm of state-legal activities will be safe for now, should Barr be sworn in as Attorney General. “To the extent that people are complying with the state laws, distribution and production and so forth, we’re not going to go after that,” Barr said, according to The Associated Press. Despite his positive comments, he also said he would support any future federal laws prohibiting cannabis, which makes his stance on cannabis much more ambiguous.

It’s the second time that Barr has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to make the case for his ascension to Attorney General. Bill served as the 77th Attorney General of the United States from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.

Barr also addressed the inability for state and federal laws to sync regarding cannabis, calling for Congress to address the issue. “I think it’s incumbent on the Congress to make a decision as to whether we are going to have a federal system,” he said. “Because this is breeding disrespect for the federal law.”

It’s a slight improvement from the last former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, which protects legal cannabis states, days after California legalized recreational cannabis sales. Ever since then, the future of state cannabis programs has been subject to debate as to whether or not they can survive. Sessions resigned on Nov. 7, 2018, after constant beratement from President Donald Trump.

No one knows for sure how the new Attorney General will enforce federal law in states that have legalized cannabis. But Barr’s recent comments give us a hint of what we can expect.

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