President Trump’s nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General appears to have a softer stance on state-legal marijuana companies than his predecessor. During his confirmation hearings today, Barr stated that we would “not go after” marijuana companies that operate legally under state law.
The statement places Barr in stark contrast with Sessions, who rescinded the “Cole Memo” – an Obama-Era Department of Justice memo that deprioritized prosecuting state-legal marijuana businesses. Industry stakeholders feared that Sessions’ rescinding of the Cole Memo would open the door for willing U.S. Attorneys to enforce federal criminal and civil forfeiture laws against cannabis businesses. Fortunately, this concern did not materialize, as U.S. Attorneys across the country made clear that they had little interest in using DOJ resources to prosecute marijuana businesses.
Still, Barr’s statement comes as welcomed news to the industry, particularly in light of his past positions on crime and punishment.