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How would Trump’s attorney general nominee handle legalization?

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How would Trump’s attorney general nominee handle legalization?


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Notorious drug warrior Jeff Sessions left his position as attorney general back in November, and a new attorney general has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. Donald Trump has nominated former attorney general William Barr to replace him, and many are wondering how he would handle the legalization of cannabis and cannabis issues generally.

“In 2018, five states legalized either the medicinal or adult-use of marijuana, making the total number of states out of compliance with the Controlled Substances Act now 47,” Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, said in a statement. “It would be utterly absurd for William Barr or any agent of the Department of Justice to take any action against these state-sanctioned and operational programs.”

“With every move by the Department of Justice facing intense public scrutiny, maintaining Jeff Sessions’ policy of reefer madness would be self-defeating,” Strekal said.

Just because something is self-defeating doesn’t mean this administration won’t attempt it, though, so where does Barr stand on cannabis issues?

According to Jolene Forman, a staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance, it’s “unclear where he stands now, but his track record is not good. He feels like he is similar to Sessions.” She told Cannabis News Box that Barr could certainly cause problems for the legalization movement if he is confirmed, but it’s unlikely he’d succeed in halting the momentum that has been built.

“It’s politically unpalatable to take on marijuana legalization, and Barr should know that,” Forman said.

Barr’s record certainly isn’t good when it comes to legalization. This record includes strongly supporting the War on Drugs and mass incarceration generally for decades. Some experts argue he’s worse than Sessions when it comes to criminal justice reform. He literally wrote a book called “The Case for More Incarceration.” He has also previously refused to acknowledge any amount of racism in the justice system.

“It’s hard to imagine an Attorney General as bad as Jeff Sessions when it comes to criminal justice and the drug war, but Trump seems to have found one,” DPA Director of National Affairs Michael Collins said in a statement. “Nominating Barr totally undermines Trump’s recent endorsement of sentencing reform. The vast majority of Americans believe the war on drugs needs to be replaced with a health-centered approach. It is critically important that the next Attorney General be committed to defending basic rights and moving away from failed drug war policies. William Barr is a disastrous choice.”

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