Federal Marijuana Law Could be Relaxed Under New Attorney General

New Policy Suggested by William Barr During Senate Hearing

The recent trend of legalizing cannabis products by a number of American states has created a rift with the federal government, which still defines marijuana as an illegal drug. However, that contradiction might soon be clarified with the seating of William Barr, the nation's new attorney general.

As CBS News reported, In his recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr said he has no plans to pursue companies involved in cannabis production and trade, provided that they adhere to the laws of the states in which they conduct business. This approach differs dramatically from the philosophy of former Attorney General Jefferson Sessions.

The new policy was welcomed by Erik Altieri, who serves as the executive director of NORML, an acronym for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This group supports reasonable changes in American laws regarding cannabis. Waiting to see whether the actions of Barr will follow his spoken words, Altieri asked the nation to "remain vigilant" on the issue.

Ten American states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and some 20 other states allow its use for medical reasons. Users can still be prosecuted under federal law, however, and such action was promoted by Sessions when he headed the U.S. Justice Department. That policy reversed the approach taken by the U.S. government under President Barack Obama, who had asked federal prosecutors to refrain from action in states where marijuana was legal.

In his testimony, Barr seemed to reverse the "get tough" drug policy he had previously endorsed. However, he is still opposed to a relaxation of federal cannabis laws. He also said he believes that the approach taken by the executive branch should agree with whatever laws are eventually enacted by the U.S. Congress.

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