Chris Christie continues to distance himself from public favor with an online rant regarding his perceived issues with cannabis, despite the fact that he is the appointed lord over New Jersey – a state with a barely functioning medical marijuana program.
The former candidate for president began his national fall from the top of the GOP leadership board when President-elect Trump discarded the NJ Governor from his transition team and bumped him from the position everyone was afraid he would get – US Attorney General.
Instead, Trump is appointing another anti-pot crusader, Senator Jeff Sessions. It’s 2016, and both politicians are still using rhetoric of yesteryear, when Nancy Reagan told children to “Just say no” to drugs and marijuana was wrongly lumped in with killer addictive gateway drugs like opioids.
But I digress, as that’s another story – which you can read in my write up of why Trump should bump Sessions for Senator Lindsey Graham, another Southern Republican on the Judiciary Committee who is more open to the idea of cannabinoid research.
Back to the point – Gov. Christie is against marijuana, always has been.
He’s a critic of the Garden State’s fledgling medical program, which is so fragile due to the lack of patients it could collapse any month. Same goes for New York’s joke of a medical marijuana program that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed – and then washed his hands of any responsibility to maintain.
Did you know that New York patients aren’t even allowed to buy medical flower? It’s only tinctures and oil cartridges, and the few patients enrolled barely represent a fraction of the heavily populated state.
Recently, Chris Christie took to the airwaves to address his constituents, as he does every month, in his “Ask the Governor”.
“To me, legalization of marijuana for tax purposes – and that’s the way people justify it because you can’t justify it anyway – it’s blood money,” Christie said.
“That’s what it is to me. I have watched too many kids start their addiction with alcohol and marijuana, and then move on to much more serious drugs. And every study shows that marijuana is a gateway drug.”
He also suggested the justification of taxing marijuana is akin to legalizing and taxing Angel Dust and Heroin.
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing that we spend in government that’s important enough to allow me to willfully poison our children for that money,” he said. “That’s blood money. Now, I understand other states have decided the other way. You’re damn right I’m the only impediment. And I am going to remain the only impediment until January of 2018.”
Cannabis is not a gateway drug.
My colleague John Hudak of The Brookings Institute does a fabulous job of explaining why the governor is completely wrong.
“The policy research shows us in places where this drug is illegal, you have people committing crimes and doing bad things,” explained Hudak. “Legalization tries to regulate an illegal market in ways that try to chorale public behavior toward the outcomes that the public wants, that’s the outcome – that’s the goal of the reform community.”
“This idea that marijuana is a gateway drug, it’s been proven absolutely false.”
“Here is how there is a gateway effect with marijuana: It’s not something chemical, it’s not something biological, it has nothing to do with the pant – it has to do with the black market.”
“And when an individual is going to a drug dealer to access marijuana he’s also being exposed to other, harder drugs. And drug dealers have a very interesting and useful and hard bargaining way to drive someone away from marijuana, where they get a much lower profit margin – to something much more addictive and much harder and with a much higher profit margin.”
The ‘gateway effect’ is a social one, it’s not the drug itself.
“And if you start selling marijuana in dispensaries it should resolve the gateway effect. It’s a myth that’s constantly perpetuated in this country,” said Hudak.