Drug Policy

Chris Christie Will End the War on Drugs—Just Like Obama Did

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video via The Washington Post

During his State of the State speech yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie promised to "end the failed war on drugs." Wait a minute. Didn't the Obama administration end the war on drugs way back in 2009? Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske says it did. 

It turns out that Christie, who first called the war on a drugs a "failure" in 2012 (eight years after Barack Obama did), has something similar in mind. He does not want to stop responding to drug use with violence; he just wants to make "drug treatment" more "available," which entails forcing nonviolent drug offenders into treatment by threatening to lock them in cages. Sadly, that does count as an improvement. Most people arrested on drug charges no doubt would prefer treatment to jail. But what is the moral justification for compelling that choice? If the state does not take that approach with alcoholics (except when they have broken the law in ways that endanger or harm others), why should it treat users of arbitrarily proscribed drugs this way?

"We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse," Christie said. "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 this simple truth: every life has value and no life is disposable." Yet Christie's plan depends on the continued use of incarceration, as a punishment for people who supply arbitrarily proscribed substances and as a threat against people who consume them but do not want treatment. Their desires and choices do not matter, because the government has decreed that they do not have a right to control their own bodies and their own destinies, that they should instead be treated like children, who cannot be trusted to judge their own interests. That is a strange way of showing respect for each person's humanity.

Some critics of the war on drugs praised Christie's comments. "I was delighted to be present for the governor's swearing in and to hear him make such promising remarks surrounding drug policy reform in our state," says Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The Drug Policy Alliance and advocates throughout New Jersey look forward to working with the Christie administration to address the unacceptable and unjust consequences of the drug war." National Review's Kevin Williamson calls Christie's talk of "ending" the war on drugs "revolutionary stuff."

It is hard for me to muster the same enthusiasm. Although Christie's version of the drug war may prove to be less bad than the ones waged by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (whose drug czars made similar noises), it should not be confused with drug peace, which requires renouncing the use of force against people whose only crime consists of consuming politically disfavored intoxicants or helping others do so.

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  1. I want a new presidential contender, one that won’t make me sick…

    1. One that won’t make me smash my TV, or that feels like a dick.

      1. One whose gut is small enough so he can see his prick.

        1. I want a new politician
          One that won’t hurt my head
          One that won’t make my mouth curl in contempt
          Or make my eyes see red

          1. For years, I thought the heart of rock ‘n’ roll was in Cleveland.

            1. It’s not? I feel so disillusioned.

              1. No, apparently it’s “still beating,” which I rather suspect isn’t true, either.

              2. Disillusioned? Or let down one more time?

          2. [Rising applause, followed by Rite of Spring-style rioting]

            1. Huey Lewis and the News makes you riot in anger too?

              oh.. wait… I get it…

  2. Serfdom for the slaves!

  3. We have a “community action group” in my county that raised awareness for things like DUI, drug use, alcohol abuse etc. The group is made up of ONE local “treatment” facility and several local law enforcement agencies that send people to that facility.

  4. Douchebag pol makes ephemeral noises about decriminalization, because it’s expedient and polling well lately, and the collective republican establishment coos appreciatively about his statesmanship. Rand and Ron make principles arguments for decades, eyes roll into the back of mainstreamers’ heads.

    1. Eh, it says good things that people have moved to our side on the issue enough that it can be cynically used by pols like Christie and Obama. Ideally, all of our issues would be at that level — would make our job easier, that’s for sure.

    2. Christie is not proposing “decriminalization”. Civil commitment and drug courts are nothing but an effort to “win hearts and minds” in the War on Drugs. This is a defensive action.

      1. And a dangerous one. It just sweeps the violence under the rug, like the Rapiscanners hide the fact that you’re being strip-searched in public going through airport security.

  5. Kudos to Christie for this:
    (from the DPA site)

    Improving Syringe Access in New Jersey. In January 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a syringe access bill into law, allowing over-the-counter syringe sales and expanding statewide syringe access. DPA’s New Jersey office was instrumental in passing this life-saving legislation, which will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.

    That is an actual “libertarian” baby-step, unlike the preferred progressive public health policy of “taxpayer-funded needle exchanges”.

    1. Also helps diabetics and drives down medical costs generally.

      But deregulation is bad or something grumble mumble.

      1. Insulin syringes aren’t actually usable for IV drugs, right?

        But hey, if we can needlessly restrict peoples’ access to cold medicine they don’t even need to stay alive, why not fuck over diabetics too, ammirite?

        1. While I’m thinking about it, I have a serious healthcare/insurance gripe about diabetes too.

          Doctors keep trying to push me to prescription insulins, instead of the OTC 70/30 I was initially prescribed. “Oh, but your insurance will pay for it then”

          Ummm. It’s not that expensive. I spend more on vegetables in a month than I spend on insulin. Oh, and I’d REALLY love having to regularly get my scrip renewed, oh, but don’t worry, the insurance will pay for that too!

          And then people wonder why insurance costs so much. In short? Because you’re fucking retarded.

    2. Right, but IIRC NJ was the last state to relegalize OTC syringe & needle sales. It just happened to be during Christie’s admin. that this came, at the end of a nationwide wave of reform of this. And in the meantime his admin. had made things hard for private needle exchange programs. So the cheers are for his acquiescence, basically. But, sadly, that is something significant.

  6. C’mon Chistie, have a mint. It’s just one little waffer-thin mint, after all…

    1. Are you referring to Vip from The Thrill of It All (or maybe I’m mixing it up with another Doris Day-Rock Hudson flick)? That picture’s such a period piece now, because at the time it seemed quite plausible to audiences that a common consumer prods. co. would market a mint wafer that packed the punch of a triple martini.

  7. The fun thing about forced “treatment” instead of incarceration is that the drug user usually has to pay for the treatment whereas the incarceration is paid for by the state.

  8. You got the same sort of half-empty/half-full divergence of views on him regarding med mj. Some focused on his obstructionism?his putting up objections that may have been concern trolling?while others saw him as quite “pro” for not stopping it entirely while he’s a Republican and former prosecutor after all.

    Who knows, really? I think his finger’s to the wind, like most politicians’.

  9. Christie needs to go away. I’m not sure who supports the man. It seems to me it would be in the best interest of the Democratic Party for the GOP to keep putting forward “progressive” candidates on the Republican ticket. About the only way I see the GOP eventually regaining the presidency or the Senate is if they make a serious effort to co-opt certain libertarian issues: I don’t see that happening until some more junior members of Congress move up in the ranks. In the meantime, Christie is another example of the GOP trying to mold their candidates to the Democratic Party platform. While some might say “Democrats, Republicans, same thing anyway,” I’d mention my concern that we’re moving dangerously close to a one-party system in the Senate and the Executive.

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