The Case For A Pro-Cannabis Attorney General, Explained

This article was originally published on Weedmaps, and appears here with permission.

Now that the election is over and the dust has settled, we can be sure of two things: (1) cannabis was the real election night winner, and (2) Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

After the widespread success of cannabis legalization ballot measures on election night, cannabis advocates now have a new focus: Biden's Cabinet.

Serving as the President's advisory board, the Cabinet consists of the Vice President and 15 executive department heads. Biden has already begun announcing his selections, making key diplomatic, national security and economic nominations, and those choices could have a profound and far-reaching influence in shaping the cannabis policy landscape.

One position of particular relevance to the cannabis industry is the Attorney General. NORML, a national legalization advocacy group, wrote an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden demanding he appoints an Attorney General that will respect state-level cannabis laws, acknowledge the failures of cannabis criminalization, and work to end prohibition.

So what exactly does the Attorney General do, and why do cannabis advocates care who occupies this powerful appointed position?

What does the Attorney General do?

The Attorney General serves as the head of the US Department of Justice and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. The Attorney General represents the US in legal matters, provides legal advice to the President and executive department heads, enforces federal law, oversees civil rights, federal prisons and penal institutions, and supervises US attorneys and marshals.

Similar to all cabinet positions, the Attorney General is nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate. There are no term limits for the Attorney General, but since the President has the power to appoint or remove the Attorney General from office at any time, attorneys general often change with a new administration.

The second highest-ranking official in the Department of Justice is the Deputy Attorney General, who assists the Attorney General and supervises the operations of the Department of Justice. Through the issuance of memos, past Deputy Attorneys General have played an important role in defining how the Department of Justice interacts with the legal cannabis industry. For example, in 2009, Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden wrote a memo directing US Attorneys not to focus federal resources on those using medical cannabis legally under existing state law.

How can the next Attorney General shape the cannabis industry?

As a part of the executive branch, the Attorney General is not …

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