Governor Christie’s Marijuana Plan: Say One Thing, Do Another

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 22, 2014

    During his second inaugural address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had some harsh words for our War on Drugs:

    “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse,” Governor Christie stated, “We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.”

    While critiques of the War on Drugs are always welcomed (Governor Christie had previously made similar statements), it is hard to take his comments seriously when you consider his record regarding sensible reforms to New Jersey’s marijuana laws.

    The same day he was calling for an end to this failed policy, two pieces of legislation that would have made pragmatic changes to New Jersey’s marijuana laws were sitting on his desk awaiting signature. The first would have allowed state farmers to receive licenses for industrial hemp cultivation as soon as the federal government changed the national policy on the issue. The other, Senate Bill 1220, would have ensured patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would be able to receive organ transplants and not be disqualified because of their medicinal use of cannabis. You would think that a governor who just stood at a podium and lambasted our prohibition as a failed policy, would immediately leave the stage and eagerly sign these pieces of legislation.

    He didn’t. These two important measures sat on his desk, unsigned and were ultimately doomed to failure by Governor Christie’s pocket veto.

    In the previous few years, Governor Christie declared that he would veto any legislation decriminalizing marijuana that came to his desk and also fought against rational reforms to the state’s medical marijuana program tooth and nail. He eventually capitulated slightly on the latter, but not before watering down many proposed amendments to the state’s program.

    We appreciate the Governor’s sentiment and welcome him in joining the overwhelming majority of Americans who think the War on Drugs has failed, but his statements are merely political bluster until his rhetoric is matched by his actions. While the ensuing years (and continual rise in public support) will only lead to more politicians, both aspiring and those currently in power, joining us in our call for a new approach to marijuana, we must be vigilante. Actions speak louder than words. If Governor Christie (and President Obama for that matter) want the rubber to meet the road between their statements and actual public policy, they will need to follow these flowery words with legitimate action.

    39 responses to “Governor Christie’s Marijuana Plan: Say One Thing, Do Another”

    1. Anonymous says:

      Too bad Cory Booker wasn’t made gov. Maybe one day.

    2. wseguy says:

      Lets Ban cheese burgers also,there more dangerous than marijuana

    3. grammarpolice says:

      we don’t need to be vigilante; we’d be batman.

    4. The Anti-Prohibitionist says:

      I’m not sure if Gov. Christie will sign these bills or not, but eventually, with enough education and effort, we may be able to help Christie make the right choice. However, regarding the issue involving organ transplants, I haven’t seen any research on the topic but I am concerned that the THC might somehow affect the host body’s acceptance of the donor organ. Again, I don’t really know whether or not that’s true, or if any studies have been done.

    5. Paul Pot says:

      He will not be President.

    6. Julian says:

      I saw the polls in Georgia and thought, “Hey, maybe Republicans have a chance…” And then I read this and heard a plane crash, “NEEEEeeeeeeerkBOOOOOSH!!!
      I mean, coming from a governor who shuts the GW bridge down for retribution then gets on the podium and basically says, “Yeah, that was wrong, we expected the retribution. But single handedly vetoing the hemp bill? That was the hamartia of the tragic hero whose hubris has spelled his own downfall.
      The question on everyone’s mind now is: how bout that marijuana scheduling president Obama? Have thee thy mortal valor or are you gonna pull a Christie and veto the will of the free world?

      Go Broncos! You are my personal marijuana superbowl commercial…

    7. Natasha says:

      Julian, as I pointed out previously, President Obama does not have the authority to reschedule marijuana. Only Congress and the ONDCP do. President Obama could appoint someone more marijuana friendly to the ONDCP, but the head of the ONDCP is prohibited from advocating for that type of thing (rescheduling, legalization, etc). It would basically have to be an act of Congress or a Supreme Court ruling, and the Supreme Court would not rule on marijuana’s scheduled status unless to affirm the government’s right to regulate it.

    8. Ray says:

      Industrial Hemp? Really? Does this man not know the difference between hemp and marijuana? This is a man looking for power and he has said many times now he is not progressing marijuana reform anymore.

      I am not anti-republican but every local politician I have written to or called who is against marijuana reform is republican. Every politician in favor of at least medical marijuana is democrat.

      This is the only platform I am voting for so if you want my vote “I want safe legal access”.

      The nation is talking Chris Christie if you really are the voice of New Jersey you better listen.

      @Eric: Do you have any polls for New Jersey about what the people want?

    9. james says:

      Christie is a Democrat light if u ask me. I’m from GA and would not vote for this guy. He can’t hold to a simple promise.

    10. RUT says:

      Politicians like CHRISTIE are really the reason America is failing these days. I love it when elected officials are asked for their position on marijuana and they will claim that we just do not know that much about marijuana to make a decision at this time. If they do not know that much about pot then why are they classifying pot as a class one substance. Putting people in prison for using something they do not know much about. WHAT LEADERSHIP. CHRISTIE is a bully and his staff are a reflection of how his inner circle operates.