Washington, DC: Members of the United States Senate voted 70 to 30 last week confirming the nomination of Merrick Garland for the position of US Attorney General.
In his testimony to Senators, Garland acknowledged that the Justice Department, under his direction, would be unlikely to interfere in states where cannabis is legal – a policy first outlined by the Obama administration, but later rescinded in 2018 by former AG Jeff Sessions.
He stated, “It does not seem to me [to be a ] useful use of [the] limited resources that we have to be pursuing prosecutions in states that have legalized and are regulating the use of marijuana, either medically or otherwise.”
He added: “Criminalizing the use of marijuana has contributed to mass incarceration and racial disparities in our criminal justice system and has made it difficult for millions of Americans to find employment due to criminal records for nonviolent offenses. … It is important to focus our attention on violent crimes and other crimes that greatly endanger our society, and prosecutions for simple marijuana possession are not an effective use of limited resources.”
Under federal law, the US Attorney General can also weigh in on the federal scheduling of controlled substances though, in practice, this authority has largely been deferred to the US Drug Enforcement Administration and to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director.