If the latest presidential hopeful is handed the keys to the White House in 2016, the cannabis industry, as a whole, is doomed for a complete ransacking by federal drug officials and may ultimately be shut down in an act of extreme prejudice. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently appeared on The Hugh Hewitt Show, where he announced his pre-presidential plan to “crack down” on those states that have voted to end prohibition and bring cannabis to the mainstream.
When Hewitt inquired about the governor’s position on states like Colorado and Washington, which are currently being allowed by the federal government to operate recreational marijuana markets, Christie explained that he intends to make it his first line of business to, once again, enforce federal law and put prohibition back where it belongs.
“I will crack down and not permit it,” he said, before going on a tirade about cannabis being the culprit for addiction. “Marijuana is a gateway drug,” he continued. “We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And 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.”
So far, Christie is the first candidate to step into the 2016 presidential campaign to express a complete disdain for the cannabis industry and take a platform of total prohibition. Most of the other candidates, including Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Rick Perry, have all stood alongside of the Obama Administration’s current stance in which the federal government hasn’t formally put the kibosh on those states that have established taxed and regulated markets.
While it’s unnerving to hear that a possibility of the next president sabotaging the progress of marijuana reform in the U.S. exists, it’s likely the worst possible position a presidential hopeful can take in this day and age if they expect to run a successful campaign.
Not even the ultra-conservative side of the political scene can be counted on to stand in opposition of legal weed. A recent Pew Research Survey indicates that 54 percent of Republicans don’t believe the federal government should stand in the way of those states that have decided to sell cannabis in a manner similar to how the entire country slings booze. These numbers are extremely impressive because they show that pot’s opposing forces are starting to emerge in close proximity to the beliefs of both Democratic (58 percent) and Independent (64 percent) political figures.
This isn’t to suggest that the majority of Republicans are champing at the bit to repeal prohibition, but it does shed some light on the theory that it will, at least from this point forward, be difficult for a presidential candidate to attract the necessary support as long as they vow to perpetuate the war on cannabis with Nixon-esque swagger and swill. In fact, only a small percentage of Republican lawmakers stand in support of the full-blown legalization of marijuana, like what’s currently underway in Colorado. An overwhelming majority (65 percent) believe that it should be left up to the state to determine whether to implement this policy, not the uncle-sambagging authority of the federal government.
Christie’s arrogant vow to undermine the will of the states that have decided to legalize marijuana, essentially stripping the concept of democracy down to its underpants and flogging its backside with a wet rubber hose, is probably not the best strategy to persuade his Republican brothers and sisters to support his campaign. Even if they did, which isn’t likely, the former federal prosecutor would still be hard-pressed to win the support of the average voter by standing on a shaky prohibitionary platform. This is a no-brainer, since the latest public opinion poll show that most Americans stand in support of legalization in one form or another.
The most interesting aspect of Governor Christie’s most recent anti-pot remarks is the fact that he honestly believes he has enough girth to rip every state’s pot plants up by the roots and burn down the entire industry without becoming a real target for cannabis advocates and activists. Even though some public policy experts claim it’s possible for the next president to swoop in and castrate the cannabis trade, there’s enough momentum coursing through the country, at this juncture, that would undoubtedly make this tactic a more difficult task than even a know-it-all like Christie is able to fathom.
In response to a recent op-ed piece by Harvard economics professor Jeff Miron, which speculates that the next president and his attorney general could go against the grain of state rights and snuff out the legal cannabis market, Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelman argues that such a happening would be an extreme scenario – and a highly unlikely one at that. Legal marijuana has already proven itself to be a substantial earner, with the potential to become the rock star plant that projects the U.S. into fatter days under the next industrial revolution. Essentially, there are too many influential people currently reaping the benefits of legal weed for the president to even consider such a vicious plot to overthrow.
“It’s all political,” Nadelmann told The Huffington Post. “Of course it’s possible that the next president could decide to crack down on the states that have legalized marijuana but that prospect becomes ever less likely with every passing day.”
“Diverse sectors of society are developing a stake in marijuana remaining legal,” he continued. “Taxpayers and tax collectors enjoy the revenue. Cost cutters appreciate the savings from no longer arresting so many people for marijuana. Unions welcome the new legal jobs. Businessmen, including many who vote Republican, relish the actual and potential profits.”
Essentially, this means that if Christie does manage to win the presidency in 2016, he will have a fight on his hands if he intends to persist in his effort to close the doors on the cannabis culture. Sure, he would have the power to launch a full-scale attack on legal states by finally feeding the starving dogs of the Drug Enforcement Administration with permission to collapse every marijuana-related business and throw the proprietors in prison under the harshest federal statutes. But, a measure that drastic could be straw that breaks the political camel’s back, as his draconian fist would do nothing to rid the country of marijuana – it would only ensure that the wrong people profit from the sales.
What do you think of Chris Christie’s stance on cannabis? Share your thoughts in the comments.