President Trump recently announced his nominee for U.S. Attorney General,
and it is unclear whether this nominee will be better or worse than the
former Attorney General Jeff Sessions when it comes to the growing cannabis
momentum toward federal legality. William Barr, who served as President
George H.W. Bush’s attorney general, has not yet explicitly expressed
his stance on the recent state-wide cannabis legalization movement, but
a look into his past stance on drugs should cause the industry apprehension
During Mr. Barr’s time with the late President Bush, who was known
for his push for “more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors”
in an effort to battle drug use, Barr endorsed a report pushing to increase
incarceration as a way of controlling violent crimes.
Although today’s popular view on drug policy drastically differs
from that of the 1990’s, even Barr’s recent efforts toward
defending the criminal justice system should cause concern for cannabis
activists. For example, in 2002 Mr. Barr associated drug trafficking with
terrorism and designated the war on drugs as the “biggest frustration”
he faced under Bush. More recently, in 2015 he wrote a letter to lawmakers
urging them not to suggest any sentencing reform bills.
tough-on-drugs policy positions were passed down to Barr’s daughter, Mary Daly,
who is the current director of opioid enforcement and prevention efforts
in the deputy attorney general’s office. Daly’s platform comes
right out of the former war on drugs playbook and she advocates for harsher
criminal enforcement as a means to combat the opioid epidemic. She also
supported abolishing the Obama administration’s more lenient policies
for lower-level drug offenders, according to CBS News.
It is likely that President Trump’s nominee could be more indicative
and in-line with the “Memoranda of President” Trump released
in October 2017, which can be found at the end of § 801 of the Controlled
Substances Act. Trump’s memoranda are called “Combatting the
National Drug Demand and Opioid Crisis” and directs that it shall
be “the policy of the United States to use all lawful means to combat
the drug demand and opioid crisis currently afflicting our country.”
The cannabis industry is trying to determine if William Barr, if confirmed
by the Senate, will prove to be any better than his predecessor Jeffrey
Sessions, who believed that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Because the landscape for drug policy is substantially different than
that of the 1990’s, it is difficult to foreshadow how he would address
the federal-state conflict surrounding cannabis laws, but make no mistake,
Mr. Barr will be a strong rule of law enforcer.
The Drug Policy Alliance called Barr a “fierce advocate for mass
incarceration and punitive drug policies”, and although times have
changed since Mr. Barr’s service to the White House in the 1990’s
it is unclear if his former war on drugs polices have evolved like the
rest of the country.
Watching how Senator Corey Gardner handles this nomination might be a key
insight as to whether Mr. Barr will be better or worse for the ever-growing
state run cannabis industry.
Knowing the myriad of complex laws and having a team of trusted advisors
in this industry are critical to success and compliance. Charles Feldmann
is an experienced international cannabis attorney who has focused his
practice in assisting his marijuana and hemp business clients around the
globe in creating and operating 100% compliant operations.
He uses his past experience as a Marine Corps federal prosecutor, DEA Drug
Task Force Commander and Colorado state narcotics prosecutor to assist
his clients in establishing strict regulatory compliance protocols at
both the state, federal and international levels. Read his full bio at