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Attorney General William Barr Begrudgingly Supports Ending Cannabis Prohibition

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US Attorney General William Barr is coming around to the federal legalization of cannabis — even though he’s personally opposed to marijuana.

AG Barr has not been shy about his belief that cannabis should continue to be banned at the federal level. However, he recognizes when a battle is lost. On Wednesday, Barr said during a Senate hearing that aligning federal and state regulations for cannabis is more important than clinging to a losing fight to keep marijuana prohibition alive.

The situation that I think is intolerable and which I’m opposed to is the current situation we’re in, and I would prefer one of two approaches rather than where we are,” Barr said. Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana but, if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law and so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law.”

And, it looks like Barr isn’t just paying lip service to cannabis legalization. During the hearing, he expressed support for the STATES Act, which would end federal prohibition and allow individual states to decide the legality of cannabis in their respective jurisdictions. Right now, the STATES ACT is being circulated around the Department of Justice for comment.”

Once we get those comments, we’ll be able to work with you on any concerns about the STATES law, but I would much rather that approach — the approach taken by the STATES Act — than where we currently are,” Barr told Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R‑AK) when she asked him about the bill.

During the hearing, Barr also reiterated his support for increasing the number of facilities licensed by the federal government to produce cannabis for research purposes.

I think we’re going to move forward on it,” he said, adding that he’s been pushing very hard over the last few weeks” to get it done.

I think it’s very important to get those additional suppliers.”

These statements prove that unlike his cannabis-hating predecessor (Jeff Sessions), Barr is not interested in using DOJ resources to prosecute states with legal cannabis. And with most of the 2020 presidential candidates—and much of Congress—in support of legalization, we could see some big changes coming to federal marijuana laws in the coming years.

h/​t Marijuana Moment

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