Attorney General Wasted DOJ Resources To Investigate Marijuana Mergers Due To Personal Bias, Official Alleges

Attorney General Wasted DOJ Resources To Investigate Marijuana Mergers Due To Personal Bias, Official Alleges

Attorney General William Barr’s personal opposition to marijuana led him to direct improper antitrust investigations into multiple cannabis company mergers—accounting for nearly one-third of the division’s cases in 2019—according to written testimony from a current Justice Department official who is slated before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Those investigations, which appear to have influenced the end of at least one major merger between MedMen and PharmaCann, were protested by career DOJ staff who objected to the rationale for such inquiries. The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division typically must demonstrate that there’s substantial risk of anticompetitive harm for mergers it investigates, including the potential for monopolization. The official stressed that the directive from Barr resulted in the waste of departmental resources, with cannabis transactions at one point representing “five of the eight active merger investigations in the office that is responsible for the transportation, energy, and agriculture sectors of the American economy.” Via House Judiciary Committee. “The investigations were so numerous that staff from other offices were pulled in to assist, including from the telecommunications, technology, and media offices,” John Elias, who has been with the department for 14 years, said. In March 2019, Barr reportedly called Antitrust Division leadership into a meeting titled “Marijuana Industry Merger Review,” the testimony states. Staff were instructed to prepare a briefing memo on the MedMen-PharmaCann transaction and concluded that it “was unlikely to raise any significant competitive concerns that would justify issuance of” a secondary request investigating the merger. Elias emphasized that this was…

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Source : MJ moment
Link to original : Attorney General Wasted DOJ Resources To Investigate Marijuana Mergers Due To Personal Bias, Official Alleges
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