Cannabis, Competition, and a Constitutional Crisis

On June 23, 2020, John Elias, a career Department of Justice (DOJ) official, submitted written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (the Committee) in response to a Congressional investigation into the politicization of the DOJ office under Attorney General William Barr. Elias claims Barr directed the DOJ’s Antitrust Division (the Division) to unjustly target cannabis company mergers because Barr personally dislikes the cannabis industry. The DOJ’s internal watchdogs investigated Elias’ claims against Barr and determined (1) the DOJ’s cannabis merger investigations were warranted given the complexity of the cannabis industry and the Division’s lack of experience with such companies, and (2) even if Barr had been motivated by his personal animus, that would not violate any law, regulation, or policy.

Elias provided live testimony to the Committee on June 24 and Barr is scheduled to do the same on July 28, however, it’s likely he will not address this cannabis controversy given the long list of high-profile scandals involving Barr and the DOJ. A recent Forbes article by Matt Perez provides a timeline of the various controversies surrounding Barr, including his handling of the Mueller investigation, the prosecution of Michael Flynn and Roger Stone,  and the

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