US attorney general says busting legal weed companies is the Fed’s lowest priority
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has doubled his promise to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states that have legalized adult use or medical cannabis.
At a recent Home Remedies Subcommittee meeting, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) asked Garland what efforts the Justice Department is ready to curb the illegal weed cultivation caused by transnational drug cartels. Growing cannabis on the black market is a serious problem for California, where high taxes and limited access to legal weed make it difficult for legal businesses to compete in illegal sales.
For the past several years, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has worked with California law enforcement agencies to raid illegal producers across the state. The DEA actually seized more weeds in 2020 than it did in 2019, largely due to these increased efforts to combat the California black market.
In response to Garcia’s concerns, Garland responded that the federal Justice Department was fully prepared to continue raiding and prosecuting cannabis cultivation operations that violate state laws. However, the attorney general took a moment to clarify that he believes the government should only focus on drug cartels and illegal producers, not individual pot users.
“The department believes that enforcing marijuana use is not a good use of our resources,” he said, according to Marijuana Moment. “And I understand you don’t talk about it. You speak of growth and production on a large scale. “
“It is likely not a good use of our resources if they are regulated by the state,” Garland continued. “To the extent you ask for examples of large volume transnational operations from Mexico or transnational operators coming to the US to promote growth, those are certainly our responsibility and our area of concern.”
Garland’s comments are in line with statements made during his confirmation hearings in February. “It doesn’t make sense to me to devote limited resources to prosecution, either medically or otherwise, in states that have legalized and regulate the use of marijuana,” he said at the time. “I don’t think that’s a useful use.”
“In all respects, Judge Garland’s responses suggest that he has no intention of curbing advances in regulation and consumer access to cannabis, and we are relieved to do that,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal , in March versus marijuana moment. just before Garland’s official confirmation.
The Justice Department has had a policy of levy against legal weed states since Obama took office, and despite constant threats of enforcement, the Trump administration has largely upheld that policy. And while President Biden’s cannabis reform policy appears to have stalled in the 1990s, Garland’s comments suggest that the government will continue to respect individual states’ right to enact their own weed laws throughout the current administration.