It is common knowledge that most of the public in the United States have favored legalization of cannabis and have supported it throughout the years. However, according to federal law, marijuana is illegal and categorized as a banned substance within the country. Although there is a stipulation added to this law. According to that, marijuana can be legalized or de-criminalized by passing of an individual state law, if it is regulated properly. The states of Alaska, Washington, and even Oregon have completely legalized cannabis, for both medical and recreational purposes.
The issue of marijuana legalization has created its fair share of controversies. While some high-ranking officials and politicians have expressed their views in favor of it, there are others who have staunchly stood against it.
Chris Cristie, the current Governor of New Jersey, who was also a republican presidential candidate till February 2016, holds some strong opinions on the legalization of marijuana.
Just a day before he took office in 2010, his predecessor Jon Corzine signed a law allowing implementation of the medical marijuana program in New Jersey. It became Governor Christie’s responsibility as he came to power. However, Christie had never expressed his support for the program and seemed reluctant on implementing it through the state.
In fact, one of the reports from his 2010 Governor’s campaign stated that although he never openly opposed the concept of marijuana legalization for medical use, he had made it clear that he wasn’t willing to embrace it as a legislation.
When Corzine’s Compassionate Marijuana Act was passed, Christie said that ‘he supported medical marijuana in a limited scope for certain patients but the law was not tough enough’. He also said that he would like to see it ‘tightened up a little bit’. After he became Governor, Christie, worked with the state lawmakers to add some restrictions to the law.
The program started rolling out much later than expected, almost two years after the law was signed. Activists, patients, and marijuana advocates argued that Christie’s regulation made it very difficult for the program to be implemented the way it was supposed to. He strictly prohibited any kind of expansion for it and stated that if the program was expanded, it would open the way for legalization which he was firmly against.
Christie has stood firmly against legalization of cannabis, sometimes even criticizing other states that have made it legal.
In 2014, he also expressed his views on medical marijuana, calling it a “front for legalization”, and saying that he “only allowed tightly restricted the use of medical marijuana in New Jersey after a very public lobbying campaign”.
When he announced his candidacy for the presidential elections, he was asked a number of questions about legalization of cannabis. At one time he said, “I’ve had many taxpayers at town hall meetings who will ask me about, why not legalize marijuana to make the taxes go a little higher? To me, that’s blood money. Every bit of objective data tells us that it’s a gateway drug to other drugs. And it is not an excuse in our society to say that alcohol is legal so why not make marijuana legal. Well, why not make heroin legal? Why not make cocaine legal? You know, their argument is a slippery slope.”
He was very clear on his stance against it and went on to say that as long as he was Governor, marijuana would never be legalized in New Jersey.
During a presidential debate, Christie clearly stated that if elected he will enforce Federal laws in all fifty states, banning marijuana completely. Then he tried to soften up his harsh statement by saying that he wasn’t against medical marijuana, and said, ”In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. I’m not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I’m against the recreational use of marijuana.”
Governor Christie did everything he could to not push the implementation of the medical marijuana program, really frustrating as a NJ resident.