According to the Huffington Post, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, said on Monday that the war on drugs thus far has been a “failure,” although he himself made a vow to enact a federal crackdown on marijuana, a substance which has been a primary target in the war for many years.
In addition to deeming the war on drugs a failure, Christie added that the United States should embrace those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and offer them a chance to seek rehabilitation versus being incarcerated.
Many lawmakers and drug policy reformers share similar views to Christie. however critics of the 2016 presidential candidate believe Christie;s record of “forceful marijuana rhetoric” suggests he may be missing the point. According to reports, Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project told Huffington Post,
“Governor Christie is right that the war on drugs is a failure. But what he apparently doesn’t realize is there are more arrests and prosecutions for marijuana than for any other drug. The war on drugs begins and ends with marijuana.”
Currently, marijuana offenses account for about half of all drug-related offenses, most of which are for simple possession of the drug. According to the American Civil Liberties Union recent reports on marijuana arrests, out of over 8 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent were for being in possession of the drug. Reports also discovered that there were significant racial disparities in the arrest patterns. In spite of African-Americans and whites using marijuana at the same rate, African-Americans were on average about four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses in the years in which the data was collected.
According to the FBI’s uniform crime report, in 2011 more arrests occurred in the U.S. for possession of marijuana than for all violent crimes combined.
Christie, a Republican, has made his opposition towards marijuana public, however he claims he has no problem with the use of medical marijuana which has been prescribed by a doctor, but he opposed New Jersey’s limited medical marijuana program and suggested that similar laws in 22 other states were just a front to legalize full recreational use. Christie also believes that tax money collected from marijuana sales is “blood money,” and even threatened to veto a decriminalization measure in the state of New Jersey. Earlier this year Christie stated that if he were elected president he would crackdown and not permit recreational use of marijuana in the states which have legalized it.
Unfortunately, many Americans do not support the style of hard-line federal crackdown which Christie believes in. And while most GOP voters do not support the legalization of marijuana, a recent survey found that over half of Republicans believe individual states should be allowed to use medical marijuana if they please without any federal interference.
Do you think Christie’s hard-line opposition towards marijuana will affect his votes in his presidential run?