DOJ memo defends marijuana merger scrutiny ordered by Barr

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An internal document from the U.S. Department of Justice’s misconduct office found nothing wrong with Attorney General William Barr’s decision ordering antitrust prosecutors to review 10 proposed marijuana business mergers.

Politico reported the agency’s Office of Professional Conduct found that it was “reasonable” for the DOJ’s antitrust division to “seek additional information from the industry through its Second Request process,” according to a memo from the office.

The memo was written in response to a pair of whistleblower complaints from within the DOJ’s antitrust division, which had alleged that the reviews violated federal law by “conducting pretextual investigations” of MJ industry mergers.

On Wednesday, a career prosecutor from the DOJ, John Elias, testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Barr had ordered the 10 investigations because he was prejudiced against the cannabis industry, adding that the moves were tantamount to “harassment.”

Elias also told lawmakers he had seen the memo defending the investigations, and that he disagreed with its conclusions, Politico reported.

“If your sole motivation is animosity, that is impermissible. If there is no rule or regulation, there is one missing because that’s obviously wrong,” Elias said.