AG nominee makes marijuana pledge official

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William Barr puts in writing a previous promise he made

Earlier this month, nominee for U.S. Attorney General (AG) William Barr stated that, if appointed, he would not seek to prosecute marijuana companies that adhered to the Cole Memo. Now, he has taken his position a step further, putting it in writing so there isn’t any confusion.

Barr is somewhat relaxed on the subject of marijuana legalization. While he isn’t 100% behind marijuana consumption, he is much more open than the man who previously held the spot, Jeff Sessions. Sessions is responsible for preventing expansion into marijuana research and also was behind the move to rescind the Cole Memo last year.

The Cole Memo was drafted in 2013 by then-U.S. AG James M. Cole. It asserted that law enforcement departments and prosecutors should not seek to enforce federal marijuana laws across the board in legal cannabis states but should, instead, only target their efforts to certain aspects.

In responding to a long list of questions put to him by legislators, Barr answered one question by stating that he would adhere to the Cole Memo. He also said that he would support more cannabis research, and grow farms to support that research, and recognized that cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp is legally distinct from marijuana.

He gave himself a way out, however, in case it’s needed. In response to a question from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, he added, “I have not closely considered or determined whether further administrative guidance would be appropriate following the Cole Memorandum and the January 2018 memorandum from Attorney General Sessions, or what such guidance might look like. If confirmed, I will give the matter careful consideration.”


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