Biden to pick attorney general soon; choice could favor marijuana industry

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President-elect Joe Biden told reporters Monday he plans to identify his attorney general this week, a Cabinet post that could be critical for the marijuana industry.

Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to be more favorable to the industry after four years of Jeff Sessions and William Barr, appointees of President Donald Trump who were both hostile toward marijuana.

Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, an Obama-era policy protecting state-legal marijuana businesses from federal prosecution.

While that move rattled marijuana executives, the U.S. Department of Justice under Sessions remained mostly indifferent to the industry.

Barr pledged a hands-off policy toward state-legal marijuana businesses but then ordered politically motivated antitrust reviews of 10 proposed cannabis mergers, according to a federal prosecutor’s congressional testimony in June.

An internal document from the justice department’s misconduct office, however, found nothing wrong with Barr’s decision ordering antitrust prosecutors to review those deals.

Biden didn’t give any details on whom he might choose as attorney general.

Experts have told Marijuana Business Daily it’s possible the new attorney general could reinstate the Cole Memo – or something similar – to help state-legal marijuana companies avoid conflicts with federal authorities.

The Washington Post on Monday identified a handful of possibilities:

  • Jeh Johnson, a former homeland security secretary.
  • Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat who lost his reelection bid on Nov. 3.
  • Lisa Monaco, a former White House homeland security adviser.
  • Deval Patrick, a former Massachusetts governor.
  • Sally Yates, a former deputy attorney general.