About a month ago, Jeff Sessions stepped down as Attorney General, a move that many in the cannabis industry celebrated. And now President Donald Trump has chosen a new candidate to head the Department of Justice. So how does this new candidate feel about marijuana?
President Trump nominated William Barr to take over as Attorney General after Sessions resigned last month. Barr previously served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush. So will Barr be more friendly to marijuana than Sessions?
Actually, probably not.
Barr's actual stance on marijuana legalization isn't really clear. He doesn't seem to have made any public statements on the issue in recent years, and hasn't weighed on things like whether the federal government should let states enact their own cannabis laws. He'll likely be asked about the issue during his Senate confirmation hearings, so we'll know more where he stands directly on the issue in the future.
However, his track record in general with criminal justice reform is not good. While Attorney General under Bush, Barr supported several policies that increased mass incarceration rates in the United States and often defended racial disparities in arrests. He also introduced policies to escalate the War on Drugs, although his focus was more on crack cocaine and other hard drugs than on cannabis. One expert said that Barr could actually be worse as Attorney General for criminal justice reform than Sessions:
We may not know where exactly Barr stands on marijuana, but we do know he's a law and order conservative who has no problems with mass incarceration and escalating the War on Drugs.
So basically we're just getting Sessions again, but with probably slightly less preposterous ideas about cannabis.