The new attorney general, William Barr, has once again restated his promise to not crack down on cannabis businesses so long as they operate within the laws of their states. Burr reiterated his pledge during a recent meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner is a proponent of bipartisan legislation which protects businesses and individuals from repercussions that are acting accordingly to their respective state cannabis laws.
The conversation was centered around the increasing gap of conflict between state and federal cannabis laws. “Mr. Barr agreed that the current situation is untenable and that the DOJ should not use resources to go after legal marijuana operations,” said Gardner. However, to be clear, Barr admits that he doesn’t personally support the legalization of cannabis but that he would not use federal funds to “go after” cannabis businesses operating under their state laws.
That said, he has also stressed that fact that the responsibility of resolving the conflict between federal and state legislation falls upon Congress. Later on, Barr followed up on his pledge by putting it in writing in direct response to questions from multiple senators. He said that he and Gardner “discussed the disconnect between federal and state marijuana laws, which Mr. Barr eloquently described during his confirmation hearing.”
And indeed, during the last Congress, Gardner was a co-sponsor, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other senators, of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act. The act did not receive a vote or hearing, and no new proposal concerning the act has been introduced in the recent Congress.
Gardner said that “In particular, we discussed how my STATES Act would provide a state-based solution to the conflict between federal law and those 47 states that allow some form of cannabis. The bipartisan, common sense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters—whether that is legalization or prohibition—and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry.”
During the beginning of the Trump administration, Gardner was given a commitment by Jeff Sessions, the attorney general nominee at the time, that he wouldn’t increase the amount of federal enforcement against states with legally operating cannabis businesses. However, Sessions would quickly change his tune as he rescinded outlines created by the Obama administration’s Justice Department. Gardner was just as quick to hold up the Senate in protest until he was promised by Trump himself that the federal government would not crack down on the fledgling cannabis industry.
The senator also commented at the time that Trump supported such legal proposals as the STATES Act. This statement was confirmed by the president shortly after during a press conference.