Attorney General William Barr is taking a much softer stance on marijuana that Jeff Sessions ever did. While he might not be pushing for marijuana legalization, he’s not happy with where things are now and would prefer to leave it up to individual States to make rules that work for them.
Personally I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana, but if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law, so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law.
– U.S. Attorney General William Barr
It’s a sound compromise, which is definitely a welcome change for the industry. Although we haven’t seen federal agents shutting down cannabis companies in States where marijuana has been legalized or arresting otherwise legal consumers for buying pot, the absence of any law puts the industry at risk. After all, another attorney general could come in place with a more hard-line stance than Sessions. Although it might be hard to believe, the problem is that without a law in place to protect them, companies are still exposed to risk even in States that have permitted recreational marijuana.
STATES Act Could Solve the Issue Once and for All
There is currently a bill working its way through the government that could address a lot of the concerns and headaches associated with cannabis being illegal federally yet legal in individual States. The STATES act essentially allows companies and consumers to follow State marijuana laws without fear of the federal government intervening. This would help remove the inconsistency that currently exists and offer some assurances to companies that deal with the industry that they would not run into problems from the federal government.
While there is a separate banking bill in circulation, the STATES Act could open the door for banks to do business with the industry. In a one-page summary of the STATES Act, it notes that:
Barr indicated that he preferred the position of the STATES Act rather than what’s in place right now, calling it “intolerable.”
Good News for the Industry
While the attorney general isn’t pushing for the legalization of cannabis, he is helping advance the problems plaguing the industry today and that’s a big win for all those involved. For instance, the banking issue is a big one for cannabis companies and opens them up to significant risk. Having legislation in place that would give banks a path to do business with the industry would make it safer while also help bring down costly security-related costs as well.
We’re still a long way from legalization taking place, but these steps help move the needle in the right direction and it helps to legitimize the industry in the eyes of the federal government.