US Attorney General William Barr’s current investigations of wrongdoing within the hashish business have been driven by his personal hatred of marijuana, in response to a whistleblower within the Department of Justice.
On Wednesday, DOJ worker John Elias testified earlier than Congress that Barr allowed his private emotions to affect his choice to examine improper enterprise mergers made by state-legal hashish companies. Elias testified that investigations into the hashish business occupied 29 percent of the Antitrust Division’s merger investigations for all of 2019.
To make issues worse, Elias alleges that Barr didn’t base his choice to analyze the weed business “on an antitrust analysis,” however as a substitute launched the probes “because he did not like the nature of their underlying business,” Forbes reports.
“At the route of Attorney General Barr, the Antitrust Division launched ten full-scale evaluations of merger exercise going down within the marijuana, or hashish, business,” mentioned Elias in his opening statement. “These mergers involve companies with low market shares in a fragmented industry; they do not meet established criteria for antitrust investigations.”
When requested whether or not he’d ever seen such an excessive investigation throughout his DOJ profession, Elias responded: “In my experience, which includes 14 years at the Justice Department at many different levels of the Antitrust Division, no, I have never seen anything like that,” according to Marijuana Moment.
The witness additionally testified that that is “concerning because the investigations and the work of the Antitrust Division need to be done in good faith — they need to be done evenhandedly — both for the sake of everybody involved and for the sake of the public’s perception of the rule of law in that the Justice Department is being aboveboard with everything.”
At the listening to, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) asked Elias if the investigations amounted to “harassment by Bill Barr of an industry he didn’t like.” Elias agreed, saying that he thought “that’s a fair way to characterize it, yes.”
“Barr doesn’t like marijuana,” Rep. Cohen summarized. “Marijuana is seven times more likely to be enforced against young African Americans, breeding discontent with police and breeding interactions with police, and Barr doesn’t care about that type of stuff because he doesn’t like marijuana. That’s one of the breeding grounds of distrust of African Americans and police and police and African American contact and problems. Very unfortunate.”
“The Attorney General’s blatant abuse of his authority to improperly investigate cannabis businesses shows just how important it is to end the federal prohibition of cannabis,” mentioned Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) to Marijuana Moment. “Regardless of Mr. Barr’s own personal feelings, Americans wildly support descheduling cannabis, and it is time our federal laws represented the people’s will.”
The testimony comes as half of a bigger investigation into Barr’s failure to stay neutral in his function because the nation’s high prosecutor. Congress additionally heard testimony alleging that former Trump adviser Roger Stone received preferential treatment because of his shut ties to the president. In a separate allegation, Elias additionally mentioned that Barr launched an investigation into the auto business instantly after Trump tweeted that he was offended a few current deal struck between automakers and the state of California.
The allegations come as no shock given Barr’s earlier document. During a Congressional listening to final 12 months, the AG testified that he would favor one uniform legislation prohibiting all types of hashish, however would grudgingly settle for a legislation that allowed particular person states to legalize weed with out federal interference. Barr additionally simply approved the DEA to goal and surveil peaceable protestors following the current Black Lives Matter protests.
But, at the same time as unhealthy as Barr’s private vendetta towards hashish is, it nonetheless would not come near the all-out conflict on weed launched by his predecessor. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first decide for AG, revoked the Obama Administration’s hashish business protections, blocked the DEA from approving extra analysis hashish growers, continuously repeated anti-pot myths, and tried to persuade politicians to permit him to assault state-legal medical marijuana corporations.
Trump ousted Sessions late in 2018, and after these investigations, Barr could be following him out the door (we will solely hope…).