AG nominee

Cannabis and crickets: Trump AG nominee Barr’s silence on marijuana

So who’s the new AG nominee?

As someone involved in the cannabis industry, my response this morning to hearing that President Trump had announced William P. Barr as his Attorney General (AG) nominee was pretty standard. In fact, it was the same thing I’d done a few years before, with great results, when Trump had nominated now-former AG Jeff Sessions for the same role: I Googled the hell out of the guy and his stance on weed.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone. By mid-day, search terms such as “William Barr cannabis” and “William Barr marijuana” had trended from non-existent to, well, a thing. But then, somewhat strangely, they drastically dropped off again almost immediately after:

ag nominee search results


Because, if these other interneters are anything like me, the takeaway was that there is nothing out there on Barr and The Devil’s Lettuce. Zilch. And, frankly, I’m pretty convinced that everyone on the internet just gave up. I understand this completely because after about a half-hour of searching, the most convincing proof I had that Barr even knows what cannabis is was this:

“I mean, he couldn’t actually not know, right? Is that even possible?”

…And even that was just a bored thought.

This is a stark contrast to Sessions. Google-hounding his marijuana comments was rewarding. It was replete with historic records and dramatic statements, like his reference to Lady Gaga as proof that marijuana cannot possibly be safer than alcohol. But with Barr? It is just so confoundingly fruitless … and boring.

Throw us a bone, Barr

Even NORML seems to agree, given that “the big statement” in their press release on the subject was essentially that someone, somewhere, really needed to make this guy talk about weed: “It is our intention that Mr. Barr be put on the record regarding his current position on cannabis given his record as a proponent of the failed War on Drugs,” the organization wrote.

Translation: The internet is empty. Could someone please make him put stuff in it?

And NORML is not alone here, given that their War on Drugs reference basically covers all anyone actually knows about Barr’s potential cannabis position.

Specifically, Barr previously served as Attorney General under former President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, and he was a major advocate for both prison expansion and the Drug War at that time. More recently, he authored a letter in 2015 opposing criminal justice reform, which seemed to echo those prior stances.

Marijuana may be put on the backburner

In all fairness, that information helps glean some picture of how Barr will handle cannabis legalization, should he be confirmed. And, unsurprisingly, it’s not a cannabis-friendly one. Like Sessions before him, Barr may well continue to embrace a “tough on crime” approach that views marijuana as part of The Big, Scary Problem that only mandatory minimums and lots of prisons can solve.

However, it’s equally as possible that legalization could be a low priority for the new AG, especially in light of the current opioid epidemic, immigration, and other Trump-important issues.

Ultimately, though, I’m with NORML: Someone should ask Barr some interesting questions about weed and get this party started.

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