William Barr has been confirmed by the Senate as the newest Attorney General, succeeding Jeff Sessions after his departure last year, NBC News reports.
William Barr previously held the post under former president George H.W. Bush. His stance on many issues is not expected to differ greatly from former AG Jeff Sessions, though many elected officials believe he will listen to the needs of lawmakers more than Sessions did.
“There was a dogmatic quality to Jeff Sessions’ approach, and I think Barr will be more open-minded,” said Jon Malcolm, vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government.
Most of the concern from Barr’s confirmation was centered on protecting the the Mueller probe into possible political ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. However, Barr has indicated both during his confirmation hearing and also in writing after the hearing that he will not seek to prosecute state-legal cannabis interests.
Unlike Jeff Sessions, Barr has never held elected office or taken any extreme political positions, though he is known to be conservative. Brett Tolman, a former district attorney in Utah and a criminal defense lawyer, told the Denver Post, “I think Barr is being sensitive to states that have legalized marijuana and sees the need to balance it.”
The issue is important as Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo during his tenure, which were the only formal federal protections for state-legal cannabis businesses that are now technically open to prosecution, though no cases have yet been brought. Many seem optimistic that, while the Cole Memo may not be reinstated, Barr will not seek to revive prohibition through litigation.
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