US attorney general nominee William Barr doubles-down on pledge to not interfere in states with legal marijuana

Former U.S. attorney general and current nominee William Barr put in writing his pledge not to “go after” state-level legalized cannabis programs while also showing support for more research into the drug, a stark reversal of policy from the days of the country’s previous top law enforcer Jeff Sessions.

In a written response to questions from senators, Barr reiterated his position, first posed at his nomination hearing, and also acknowledged the legal distinctions between CBD and THC as a result of the passage of the farm bill late last year.

[Watch the medical marijuana ad that was rejected from airing during the Super Bowl]

"As discussed at my hearing, I do not intend to go after parties who have complied with state law in reliance on the Cole Memorandum," wrote Barr, referring to the Obama-era memorandum revoked by Sessions that instructed U.S. Attorneys not to interfere with states that have legalized cannabis.

Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions as attorney general, William Barr, confirmed in written responses to questions from US senators that he won’t be continuing that push to crack down on legal pot if he is confirmed by the Senate. via @voxdotcom https://t.co/Oh2hYpuzkS

— NORML (@NORML) January 29, 2019

"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," wrote Barr to Sen. Cory Booker. "If confirmed, I will give the matter careful consideration."

Barr stressed his preference for a legislative solution to the cannabis question in his written response.

"An approach based solely on executive discretion fails to provide the certainty and predictability that regulated parties deserve and threatens to undermine the rule of law," Barr told Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

"If confirmed, I can commit to working with the Committee and the rest of Congress on these issues, including any specific legislative proposals. As I have said, however, I do not support the wholesale legalization of marijuana," he continued in his response to her.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri discussing Barr’s nomination with CBS News

NORML reacts to the nominee

NORML reacted to Barr’s written comments in a statement released Tuesday, with Political Director Justin Strekal stating that the organization was pleased to see Barr recognize the progress cannabis advocates had made over the years.

“William Barr is wise to acknowledge that the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to the marijuana reform movement,” Strekal said in a statement.

[Update: Cannabis company offers free marijuana to furloughed federal workers]

According to their statement, Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” as per survey results put out by the Center for American Progress. Those numbers include majorities from all political leanings, Democrat, Republican, and Independent.

“Now is the time for the Department of Justice to work in good faith with the Senate Judiciary Committee on legislative solutions that address the senseless waste of law enforcement’s precious time and resources due to the failed federal policy of prohibition and criminalization,” continued Strekal.

Add comment