Why Chris Christie's Vow to Suppress Marijuana Legalization Is Risky

Most Republicans think the feds should not interfere.


Office of the Governor

In an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared that if he were president, he would "crack down and not permit" state legalization of marijuana. As far as I know, that makes him the first contender for the Republican presidential nomination to take that position. By contrast, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry all have said that states should be free to legalize marijuana without interference by the federal government.

If Christie thinks that promising to override state policy choices in this area will endear him to skeptical conservatives, he may be wrong about that. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month, Republicans as well as Democrats agree with Paul et al. that the federal government should not try to suppress newly legal marijuana industries in states such as Colorado and Washington. Asked whether the federal government should "enforce federal marijuana laws" in states that have legalized the drug, 54 percent of Republicans said no, as did 58 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents.

Although most Republicans still oppose legalization, that does not necessarily mean they think the federal government should impose prohibition on states that reject it. Pew's numbers indicate that nearly two-fifths of prohibitionists oppose the sort of heavy-handed interference that Christie favors—testimony to the federalist convictions of conservative constitutionalists. Results from a 2012 CBS News survey reinforce that point: Although only 27 percent of Republicans supported Colorado-style legalization, 65 percent thought "laws regarding whether the use of marijuana is legal or not should be…left to each individual state government to decide."

In this light, Christie's promise to stamp out legal marijuana looks pretty risky as a strategy for appealing to Republican primary voters, let alone general election voters, most of whom not only oppose federal interference but support legalization. And it surely is not a good way to attract support from independents: According to Pew's numbers, 58 percent of them think pot should be legal, and 64 percent say the decision should be left to the states.

Christie's remarks could be a candid expression of his anti-pot prejudices rather than a calculated attempt to improve his electoral prospects. A former federal prosecutor, Christie was notably hostile to medical marijuana in his state, and he seems to sincerely believe that cannabis consumption cannot be tolerated. When Hewitt tried to move on from the subject of marijuana last week, Christie stopped him:

Hewitt: Right now, we've got the states of Colorado and Washington flaunting [sic] federal law by allowing people to sell dope legally. If you're the president of the United States, are you going to enforce the federal drug laws in those states?

Christie: Absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it.

Hewitt: All right, next…

Christie: Marijuana is a gateway drug. 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.

States such as Colorado and Washington (soon to be joined by Alaska and Oregon) are not actually selling marijuana, of course, although they do "profit from it" by collecting taxes. It's not clear how Christie plans to stop that. As president, he could order the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration to raid and prosecute state-licensed marijuana businesses. But that would create a big political headache, especially if more states join the four that have already legalized cannabis for recreational use. By the time he took office, President Christie might be facing as many as 10 states with legal marijuana, including California.

Even if Christie were willing to commit the necessary resources and pay the political cost, there are limits to what he could accomplish for the prohibitionist cause. The federal government, which accounts for less than 1 percent of marijuana arrests, cannot realistically hope to bust a significant percentage of consumers or home growers, and it cannot legally compel states to help enforce the federal ban. With the exception of Washington, every state that has legalized marijuana so far allows home cultivation, as do the initiatives that are expected to appear on half a dozen state ballots this year and next. If President Christie managed to shut down commercial growers and retailers, home growing and informal sharing would step into the gap.

Despite the high cost and dim prospects of success, Christie may be willing to squander taxpayer money in an attempt to forcibly impose his pharmacological tastes on the entire country, including the parts where voters have emphatically rejected marijuana prohibition. But he should not expect his fellow Americans or even his fellow Republicans to applaud him for it.

[This post originally appeared at]

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  1. Fat fuck.

      1. Christie: Absolutely. Marijuana is a gateway drug to cheeseburger addiction. Look at me. I smoked pot once when I was a teenager and have been suffering from the munchies ever since.

  2. So Federalism isn’t his thing?

  3. I’m honestly thrilled to see Christie going all in on the losing side. He should do more of that.

    1. ^^THIS^^

    2. He sure had me fooled the first year or two of his governorship. Keeping in mind of course that he is still the best thing to happen to NJ politics in decades.

      1. As a governor he doesn’t sound *awful*. He seems to have instituted some reasonable budget and education reform, or at least it sounded that way based on what was reported. But he needs to be isolated to a single state so that his drug, gun, national security, and bridge policies/ideas don’t spread. NJ seems like a good place for him.

        1. Plus if he got elected president by some awful miracle, it would leave the governor’s office open to the next transparently corrupt Democrat whose turn it is.

        2. The best place in NJ for him would be Tony Soprano’s farm. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have a backhoe there.

      2. The soft bigotry of low expectations.

  4. I see politicians that seem SO out of step with the public and I just don’t understand the thinking and strategy. Is doubling down on a bad idea supposed to make one look “tough”? I really, really don’t understand how this guy got elected… other than theories about politics in NJ in general.

    1. Follow the cronies.

    2. He was an alternative to Corzine.

      1. “He was an alternative to Corzine.”

        I wish CA had an alternative.

        1. Occasionally, under certain circumstances, a Republican can get elected governor in New Jersey, but the Democrats will forever maintain their death-grip on the state legislature.

          1. NJ has no problem electing Republicans to clean up the messes made by our always-disastrous Democratic governors. Once the crises pass we go right back to the Democrats, expecting it to somehow turn out different this time.

          2. Not forever. There was a backlash ~20 yrs. ago that swept Republicans in for a brief stay.

    3. He’s tough on the hippies, but he makes up for that by cracking down on the gun nuts too

      1. So you’re saying he is an equal opportunity fascist?

  5. If Christie really wants to win the presidential election, I think next he should discuss how gays are demon spawn who only exist because Americans have sinned through overuse of pornography.

    You know – more winning social issues.

    1. and how blacks and whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

    2. If I were a candidate, I’d refuse to talk about anything other than smashing government and restoring civil liberties, with maybe a one-in-twenty mention of foreign policy.

    3. Banning gambling may also be a winner, especially in his home state of NJ.

    4. Well he is on about something health related. He should go after sugary drinks and guns.

      1. what about candy cigarettes? surely those are still available for purchase online. Think of the children.

        1. I bought a case for the office recently.

  6. “Flaunting” federal law. Are you fucking kidding me? The federal government is operating so far past its constitutional role that a state could quite reasonably refuse to cooperate with the federal government in any area whatsoever based on its usurpation of power.

    1. And lose those sweet highway and education funds? And get cut from the next stimulus (which may be coming sooner rather than later)?

      1. Well, when you tell your citizens to stop paying federal income tax, too, that might not be such a big deal.

      2. no. no. NO. NO!

  7. Hugh Hewitt is an establishment douchebag who looks moderate next to the fat fascist fuck.

    1. I was just thinking that. Hugh pissed me off a couple of weeks ago talking nonstop about how we can only increase military spending in these dire times, openly mocking Republicans who think there’s anything more than a pittance of waste.

      1. Hewitt: Right now, we’ve got the states of Colorado and Washington flaunting [sic] federal law by allowing people to sell dope legally. If you’re the president of the United States, are you going to enforce the federal drug laws in those states?

        How to spot assholes solely by word choice…

  8. I can see his point. He’s obviously the result of a severe case of the munchies.

  9. Well, this is just so much fluff, because Fatboy is never going to be president.

    1. Mmmmm… floor pie.

  10. Fatboy: I’m gonna stop states from legalizing marijuana.

    Hillary: Don’t let anyone tell you that businesses create jobs.

    Good god, these people are running for president.

    1. Isn’t there so much to make fun of him on that we don’t need to resort to fat jokes.

      *fatly sits and cries in the corner*

    2. Don’t give O’Malley short shrift:

      The Republican Party is doubling down on this trickle-down theory that says thou shalt concentrate wealth at the very top of our society. Thou shalt remove regulation from wherever you find it, even on Wall Street. And thou shalt keep wages low for American workers so that we can be more competitive.

      1. does the government keep wages low? is this a complaint for not setting a false wage floor?

        1. He’s an adherent of the minimum wage has no secondary effects philosophy. It just magically makes people earn more.

          1. It’s like only the morons go into politics…

            1. +1253 morons marching

      2. You’re saying a higher minimum wage means people earn more and so they pay more in Social Security taxes?

        Correct. If we go through another 12 years where, I mean since this is payroll tax, right? I mean, Social Security, if you go through another 12 years where wages decline over the next 12 years ? That’s not a good prescription for the math of keeping Social Security solvent, let alone, being able to pay for expanded benefits. So wage policies that actually allow people to earn more.

        1. Make minimum wage $50 an hour, then everyone can share in the prosperity!

        2. This is so fucking stupid it physically hurts me.

      3. I commented on why Christie will never be potus, below. Now on why O’Malley will never be president.

        O’Malley is a guy who is not known outside of MD. And he’s a guy who Marylanders hate so fucking badly, that they elected a Republican governor. In deep blue Marlyand.

        Any more questions?

        1. He was the mayor of Baltimore. If that doesn’t disqualify you from ever attaining higher office again, nothing should.

          1. I wonder if he thinks that giant stinking scandal over the Baltimore City prison is not coming out if he runs?

  11. That’s Bloomberg country up there. If they’re not banning something there, they’re just going to reach out and do it somewhere else.

    Let Christie have his moment.

  12. He’s never going to be president and I also like his stance here because it will require the other Republicans to take a stand in favor of Federalism on this issue.

    1. did you like hitler’s stance because it required the rest of the world to take the stance against killing jews?

    2. Saying stupid stuff like this is not even the reason that he’ll never be president.

      What has Christie ever accomplished in politics outside of NJ? The guy was born in Newark.

      The thing is, behaving in an extremely rude and abrasive manner is perfectly normal in New Jersey. But in most of the country, people find that offensive.

      Most people probably don’t even know who he is, but if he announces and gets into the debates, people will start hating him very quickly. He’ll never be popular outside of NJ.

  13. Marijuana is a gateway drug.

    Jesus christ, he’s still flogging that stupid canard?

    Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law.

    NO IT ISN’T. There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit any drug. It took an amendment to ban alcohol, and that amendment was repealed.


    1. There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit any drug.

      “Interstate commerce”*

      * = This phrase does not actually appear in the Constitution

      1. So? It’s an accurate paraphrase of “commerce… among the several States”.

        Not saying the Interstate Commerce Clause hasn’t been abused but to be absolutely pedantic about the term doesn’t help anything.

        1. I think the meaning is a little clearer in “commerce … among the several States” but really the point is that it doesn’t matter what is said, the courts will do whatever they are allowed to get away with anyway.

      2. The commerce clause was intended to prevent states from erecting trade barriers, not to allow the federal government to intrude into people’s lives.

  14. That creaking sound is Christy’s platform about to give way.

  15. Look, the man’s got an ‘eating problem’ here; you wanna give him the munchies?

    1. Oops; Scruffy beat me to it.

    2. Bread and circus peanuts.

  16. Hey, don’t piss this guy off – he’ll take a bite out of your head just like an apple.

  17. It’ll endear him to Sheldon Adelson, the vice peddler who bankrolled 90% of the “no to medical marijuana” effort in FL last year.

    And I don’t think this issue is a deal breaker for most Republicans, especially if Adelson’s money pours in and muddies the issues.

    1. It isn’t a deal breaker for a lot of conservative republicans. But it’s a total loser on a national scale.

      1. Adelson managed to keep Gingrich alive in 2012 for months IIRC despite the former Speaker’s immense… I can’t even think of the right negative word (4/20 effect?). Christie as bad as he is is more likable and more experienced than Gingrich.

      2. I don’t think so. Few people will base their vote on a pol’s pot position, but of those who do, most are anti-. The majority can be pro-pot, but that’s not a priority for many of them.

        1. I see what you did there. Heh.

      3. Adelson supports med pot in Israel with a foundation.

    2. Christies real problem with Republicans is the ass licking he gave Obama at the end of the 2012 election cycle. There is a huge group that will never support him over that alone.

      1. Eh, maybe. Time heals wounds like that. There’ll be so much Hillary hate flowing in Republican primary states that an affront involving that guy currently in office that happened years ago I don’t think will be a big problem. But I may be wrong.

        1. He has zero chance of recieving the nomination because of this and other issues. You might have a point if he had the nomination but he can’t win that.

          1. I personally think he’s a horrible mix of Nanny State Democratic and Rockefeller Republican policies which might fly in NJ/NY but I’m not sure anywhere else.

            But my only point is that his statement is directed at the big money hardcore anti marijuana bloc of one person. Who has enough money to finance a campaign “through an independent SuperPAC effort” to give Christie a fighting chance.

            1. I think if the presidential election were non-partisan, he’d have a decent shot.

        2. By the time of the primaries, I doubt Hillary’ll still be in the race.

  18. Did Christie declare or something? Or is it that he’s in the news on Earth Day for being the approximate shape of the Earth?

    1. Approximate shape, slightly more total mass.

      1. Does that make the Earth a triple planet?

  19. Please, somebody give him his little after dinner mint.

    1. One thin waffer!

    2. Eeets whaffer theen!

  20. Chris Christie will never be president.

  21. Sad to see that everybody just looks at the “getting ahead in politics” angle, that they only see this in terms of whether or not Christie will get more or less votes with this stance. Does nobody believe that Christie is standing on principle, that he sincerely believes in this issue regardless of its popularity with the electorate? I, for one, think Christie sincerely believes that he is better qualified to run your life than you are – and if you disagree with him it’s just proof of how stupid and unqualified to run your own life you are.
    You can substitute just about any politician’s name for “Christie” and it would be just as true.

  22. Drug prohibitionists are monsters. They destroy people’s lives –for their own good, of course– worse than the drugs themselves.

  23. Didn’t he get the lap band two years ago? Why isn’t he, uh, smaller?

    1. He was at some point – I am not sure if it didn’t take, or if the media just show the same unflattering fat pictures over and over.

  24. He’s a former federal prosecutor, right?
    He’ll go to his grave a drug warrior. The sooner the better.

  25. One of the very, very few differences between a Republican and a Libertarian (that always votes for them) is legalization of marijuana. The Tea Party and the religious right wings are happy to dictate what drug you can and can’t ingest.

    1. Rand Paul is a TEA Party favorite.

    2. Until the Tea Party was invaded (and mostly rejected by) the Christian right they had no position on drugs. I think a majority of Tea Party people are still only concerned with taxes and government. I think they try to avoid cultural issues for the most part.

      “One of the very, very few differences between a Republican and a Libertarian (that always votes for them) is legalization of marijuana.”

      1. Big L Libertarians by definition mostly vote for Libertarians and not Republicans.
      2. Small l libertarians have a percentage that vote Dem and a percentage that vote Rep. These are the “don’t throw your vote away” libertarians trying to vote for the lesser evil. The rest vote for Big L Libertarians.
      3. I can’t think of very many things that Libertarians or libertarians agree with the Republicans about.
      4. Not all Republicans are opposed to legalization.
      5. Already covered your mischaracterization of the Tea Party.
      6. The religious right along with the statists on the left are happy to dictate what drug you can use.
      7. Your whole point is so full of lies and mistruths that I have come to the conclusion that you’re just a drive by progressive troll.

    3. What are you talking about? The Tea Party movement was about fiscal responsibility and taxes.

  26. Maybe Christie is so obsessed with marijuana because his weight problems is really due to the munchies?

  27. Bet Cancer patients won’t be voting for Christie…The US Finally Admits Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells

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