UPDATE: Chris Christie has doubled-down on his Reefer Madness rhetoric and has become a caricature of a serious presidential candidate.
UPDATE 2.0: Christie flip-flops and says that the Drug War is a “failure”?!?
While delivering a speech on Thursday, New Jersey Governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie doubled-down on his anti-marijuana agenda. Referring to marijuana users as “diseased,” Gov. Christie reiterated his ambitions to “crack down and not permit” marijuana use, even in states where the practice is legal. As NJ.com reports, Christie “has pledged that if elected he would have all of those diseased people in places like Colorado treated by armed federal agents.”
Chris Christie has a long track record of promoting marijuana prohibition, so these remarks are not exactly surprising. In 2014, Christie traveled to Colorado, where he criticized voters’ decision to legalize marijuana two years prior, claiming the new policy “diminishes the quality of life” in the state. If elected president, Christie plans to “crack down” on legal marijuana on the basis that federal law supersedes state law:
We need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.
Christie is also a staunch opponent of medical marijuana, which he considers “a front for legalization,” and “only allowed tightly restricted use of medical marijuana in New Jersey after a very public lobbying campaign that pitted him against the father of a little girl,” according to CNN.
When it comes to marijuana policy, Chris Christie is on the wrong side of history. His positions on the issue appeal to a rapidly shrinking minority of voters. According to nationwide polls, most Americans support legalizing marijuana, and 81% think it should be legal for medical purposes. Perhaps more importantly for Christie, “sixty-four percent of Americans are against the federal government’s taking steps to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal,” according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2012.
By persistently promoting his anti-marijuana positions, Chris Christie is shooting himself in the foot. As other GOP candidates have come to realize, these changes in public opinion are too significant to ignore:
The approach of Bush, senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and others involves expressing an antipathy for marijuana use but supporting the right of states to make their own policies about it, even if their laws contradict federal statutes.
Christie is running as the second coming of Nixon, which may explain his poor performance in the polls. Most of the other GOP contenders have migrated back to the traditional Republican belief in the states as “laboratories of democracy.”