William Barr, Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States, has already faced a barrage of questions regarding some very controversial topics. Barr’s past support for draconian criminal justice policies is now out-of-step with a majority of Democrats and Republicans while Democrats are pressing Barr on his positions regarding the Robert Mueller investigation and his opinions on executive power.
One issue that has proven to be non-controversial, is Barr’s position that he wouldn’t interfere with states’ cannabis laws. This stance would have been unheard of for a Republican AG not that long ago (remember Barr has been tabbed to replace “Mr. Reefer Madness” Jeff Sessions). NORML responded to Barr’s testimony in a press release:
In Senate testimony today, nominee for Attorney General William Barr committed to not use the limited resources of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-regulated and compliant marijuana businesses. His statements came response to questions from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — each of whom represent states where marijuana is legally regulated for either medical or recreational purposes.
“It is encouraging that William Barr pledged not to enforce federal marijuana prohibition against the majority of US states that have reformed their laws. With this commitment, Congress has a clear mandate to take action and end the underlying policy of federal criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In an era when 47 states have laws on the books that defy the Schedule 1 status of cannabis, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle.”
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project had this to say about Barr:
“We are pleased to hear Mr. Barr intends to respect state marijuana laws if he is confirmed as our next attorney general. His reference to the Cole memo suggests that he will maintain the policy of non-interference that has existed since August 2013. This is not only a sensible decision, but is one supported by a vast majority of Americans.
“We are also sympathetic to Mr. Barr’s call for a more consistent federal approach, provided it is one that respects the will of the people. To that end, it is time for Congress to pass a law that either removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act or formally exempts state-legal cannabis activity from its provisions.”
William Barr’s pledge to refrain from meddling with states’ cannabis laws if he becomes U.S. Attorney General is just the latest evidence that cannabis legalization has moved into the mainstream position in our political discourse. It isn’t surprising that an issue that enjoys over 60% support would become so dominant, but it is remarkable how far the cannabis community has come over the years.
While we have made great progress, there is still a lot left to do on both the industry and activist side. We still need to fix banking and tax laws while ensuring that patients get the medicine they need and we keep the cannabis community out of jail. One of the best ways to stay involved in important cannabis business and political discussions is to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference, an event that provides the latest information, organizes fruitful networking opportunities, and always keeps activism at the forefront. The next ICBC is in San Francisco on February 7-8, with discounted early-bird ticket pricing ending this January 18th. After San Francisco, the ICBC will be heading to Barcelona, Berlin, Zurich, and Vancouver throughout the year.