Breaking: US Attorney General falsely targeted 10 cannabis companies, whistleblower says

June 23, 2020

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US Attorney General William Barr launched false antitrust investigations into 10 cannabis companies, says a Justice Department whistleblower. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In a blockbuster statement released today, a longtime employee of the US Department of Justice accused Attorney General William Barr of ordering antitrust investigations into ten cannabis companies, based solely on Barr’s political opposition to marijuana legalization.

The mergers in question, which included well-known companies such as MedMed and PharmaCann, did not meet the department’s criteria for antitrust investigations, said John W. Elias. Elias’ accusations came in written testimony submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The antitrust investigations, said Elias, were motivated by Barr’s personal opposition to cannabis legalization.

“These mergers involve companies with low market shares in a fragmented industry; they do not meet established criteria for antitrust investigations,” wrote Elias.

False antitrust cases were 29% of DOJ’s annual caseload

Barr’s orders carried such weight, Elias added, that the cannabis cases accounted for nearly one-third of DOJ’s antitrust workload in fiscal year 2019.

The charges raise questions about Barr’s potential abuse of authority and waste of departmental resources. “While these were nominally antitrust investigations,” Elias testified, “and used antitrust investigative authorities, they were not bona fide antitrust investigations.”

This is a breaking story. Leafly will have more in the coming hours. 

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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