In a Senate Apropriations sub-committee hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stood by his previous comments that enforcing federal cannabis possession laws is “not an efficient use” of federal government resources, reports.
Garland, however, declined to answer questions by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) about reinstating Department of Justice (DOJ) protections for states with legal cannabis systems. The protections had been set by the Obama administration through the Cole Memo but were later rescinded under the Trump administration’s DOJ.
“I laid this out in my confirmation hearing, and my view hasn’t really changed since then. The Justice Department has almost never prosecuted use of marijuana, and it’s not going to be.” — Garland, via Marijuana Moment
Schatz did not press the AG on the issue and said his answer was “good enough” for him.
During his confirmation hearings, Garland said in both written and oral testimony that the spirit of the memo would be followed but some activists have been pushing for the memo’s reinstatement as part of a larger federal legalization effort. Despite the comments, Garland has not started the process to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, according to the report.
Last month, a group of bi-partisan Congress members filed a bill asking the DOJ to form a commission to look at regulating cannabis similar to alcohol. Known as the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE Act), the bill is sponsored by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Brian Mast (R-FL).
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