William Barr, the former Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush and President Donald Trump’s current nominee to lead the Justice Department, says it would be a mistake to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
“We should either have a federal law that prohibits marijuana everywhere — which I would support, myself, because I think it’s a mistake to back off on marijuana,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon during his confirmation hearing to become the next Attorney General. “I think current situation is untenable. It’s almost like a backdoor nullification of federal law.”
No plan to go after businesses in legal states
He did say, however, that he would not try to intervene in states that have already legalized marijuana. If the federal government wants to allow states to determine the legality of marijuana on their own, Barr added the feds should go about that the “right way,” although he didn’t clarify what the “right way” is.
When Sen. Kamala Harris (D- CA) asked Barr if he would use federal resources to prosecute companies that are working within the guidelines of their state’s legal marijuana industry, he said that he would not. But he added that the U.S. “can’t stay in the current situation,” where a dichotomy exists between state and federal law.
Barr has a long history of taking a hardline approach to dealing with drug users and has long been a proponent of the “tough-on-crime” policies that came about under the first Bush administration. In the early ‘90s, Barr authored a report titled The Case for More Incarceration, which argued for a more robust prison system and noted that prisoners on early release sometimes went on to commit new crimes, primarily relating to drugs.