NEW JERSEY. 17 April, 2015 — Would-be president, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is not a fan of legalizing cannabis. Recently lambasting tax dollars from sales of weed as “blood money,” he promised this week to “crack down and not permit it” if he were in the White House.
On conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s talk show Gov. Christie explained that: “Marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down… states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”
Colorado’s recreational pot law has heralded a “quality of life” that New Jersey doesn’t want, “.. and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that, ” Christie had said previously during a monthly “Ask the Governor” radio show in 2014. “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado, where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high.”
Legalizing recreational cannabis looks like a distant prospect for New Jersey with Christie having said, “Not on my watch.” Asked last year how he would treat states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized marijuana, if elected president, he said, “Probably not well.” Under his stewardship, New Jersey has been sluggish to implement 2010 legislation legalizing medical marijuana, with Christie citing worries about dispensaries’ “profit motive.”
This view is seemingly at odds with pro-business remarks he made to business and political leaders at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual congressional dinner in February 2015. “The way to grow the economy is to make it profitable for business to grow the economy,” said Christie, who points to private sector job growth since he took office. However, when a caller to the Hugh Hewitt Show asked about the benefits of decriminalizing cannabis, Christie responded, “You say it’s going to come down the road. You know it may come down the road when I’m gone. It’s not going to come while I’m here.”
Despite his vocal opposition to legalizing cannabis, Christie said in his 2014 inaugural speech that he wants to see the the “failed” war on drugs end. New Jersey voters agree. 65 percent favor the elimination of penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, however they are almost evenly split on whether to legalize recreational use.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month, Gov. Christie’s enthusiasm for interference by the federal government is not shared by his party at large. Asked whether the the feds should “enforce federal marijuana laws” in states that have legalized the drug, 54 percent of Republicans said no (58 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents also opposed). Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry have that states should be free to legalize marijuana without federal bullying.
Pew polling finds that 53 percent of Americans support legalization, a number steadily increasing as demographics, industry growth, and the failure of the “war on drugs” shift the needle toward reform.
Picture: Reuters/Lucas Jackson