Cannabis headlines across the internet cheered for the newly appointed U.S. Attorney General William Barr, when he candidly responded to Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) remark of whether or not he would seek out cannabis companies in compliance with state laws. In his confirmation hearing today he made a point of repeatedly stating that he is not interested in using the federal government’s limited resources to track down businesses that have lawfully followed state guidelines and regulations for growing, distributing and selling cannabis within their state. As Barr comments, “My approach to this would be, not to upset settled expectations and the reliance interest that have arisen as a result of the Cole memoranda. Investments have been made and so there has been reliance on it. So I don’t think its appropriate to upset those interests.”
Barr’s mentality towards protecting state dealings with working businesses portrays a position of reason. It is not the cannabis boom per se that he is interested in, but fulfilling a promise for honest business. Commendable by measure, but this doesn’t deny the fact that if given the binary option, Barr would admittedly prohibit cannabis nationwide punishable by federal law. What we observed from the seat today is a firm step forward from former U.S. AG Jeff Sessions’ anti-cannabis rhetoric - as once infamously slandered - good people don’t smoke marijuana. We know this not to be the case. But for Barr to showcase a firm and fair stance towards cannabis legalization at such critical timing for combating prohibition ought to be recognized with regard. Although not an outright victory for allies and advocates alike, it is neither a win for those who would oppose the forward momentum of cannabis reformation throughout our country.