Why A Biden-Appointed, Pro-Cannabis Attorney General Is Important For Weed Reform

As President-Elect Joe Biden fills out his cabinet and other key administration roles, potential candidates for the Attorney General role have been mentioned.

Among the options are homeland security advisor Lisa Monaco, former acting AG Sally Yates and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.The new AG will have a key role in advancing cannabis reform, cannabis and policy experts tell Benzinga.

"We have seen first hand how integral having at least a somewhat sympathetic Attorney General in office is by just comparing the past two administrations," says NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. 

He pointed toward the Obama administration's implementation of the the Cole Memo, which stated that the Department of Justice couldn't use resources on nationwide cannabis raids.

President Trump's first AG, Jeff Sessions, rescinded the memo in January 2018.

The situation did not improve much under Trump's second AG, William Barr, who has reportedly launched antitrust investigations into the cannabis industry.

"It is time we have an administration that respects the desires of our nation's citizens and that they remember, especially when you are discussing the Executive Branch, personnel is policy," Altieri adds.

Mattio Communications Strategist Ellen Mellody — a political veteran who worked as a press secretary during the Obama-Biden Administration in 2008 —  agrees. A pro-cannabis AG in the incoming Biden administration would be significant for the future of reform despite the likely scrutiny they will face from Senator Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans.

"It's likely that Republican leaders in the Senate, like McConnell, will work overtime to politicize Biden's pick, given that each contender will likely have both supporters and detractors," Mellody says.

Limited Impact

Chris Lindsay, Director of Government Relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, noted that the federal government is limited when it comes to impacting state decisions …

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