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Trump Taps Drug War-Era AG William Barr to Replace Sessions

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that his next nominee for U.S. Attorney General will be William Barr, who previously held the post for two years under President George H.W. Bush, according to a Leafly report.

Barr is a known Republican who has served multiple roles in the Justice Department aside from his stint as attorney general from 1991 to 1993.

During his tenure as attorney general, Barr advanced a stern anti-drug agenda pursuant to President Bush’s platform. H.W. Bush’s administration was known for embracing the drug war.

Because of mixed messages from the Trump administration, it’s unknown whether or not Barr would continue an anti-drug agenda if confirmed as attorney general. While Bush seemed to be the impetus behind most of the anti-drug policy of that administration, Barr himself endorsed a government report that encouraged incarceration among other pro-prison and anti-drug decisions. The Drug Policy Alliance has called Barr “a fierce advocate for mass incarceration and punitive drug policies.”

It’s possible, however, that Barr may have updated his stance on cannabis.

“Mr. Barr is a very smart man, and I don’t have any doubt that he’s fully apprised of the failures of the drug war. As to what his leanings might be concerning cannabis, I think it’s difficult to look through a lens that existed in 1991 and 1993 and extrapolate that to this time.” — Barry Grissom, former U.S. Attorney for Kansas, in an interview with Leafly

Grissom also said the $1.5 billion in cannabis sales seen in Colorado last year is a potent reason for any nominee to take a softer stance on cannabis legalization. “What that should tell anyone that’s a prosecutor is that $1.5 billion didn’t go to criminals,” said Grissom.

Barr is pending confirmation by Congress. Until then, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker — who took over after the firing of Jeff Sessions — will continue to head the Justice Department.

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