Christie, Bush Put on Defensive on Marijuana Legalization

Paul, Fiorina, Bush all support letting states make own choices.


Also told us to vote him in as president specifically to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

Toward the end of this evening's unending directed-by-Peter-Jackson length GOP primary debate, CNN host Jake Tapper brought up a question from "social media" sources seemingly designed to give Sen. Rand Paul a moment to shine (and argue with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie). Paul was asked what he thought of Christie saying that he, as president, would enforce the federal ban on marijuana use in states that have legalized it like Colorado.

Paul responded that the drug war has been remarkably unfair, pointing out that there were people on stage who had admitted to smoking marijuana. He said politicans were all coming from places of privilege talking about the drug war and that it's poor kids who go to jail for using drugs, not rich kids.

The person he was talking about was Jeb Bush, who admitted that he had indeed smoked marijuana when he was younger. They had a go-around about whether Bush would put families in jail for trying to get cannabis oil for a small child suffering from seizures. Paul was referring to a failed effort in Florida from 2014 to legalize medical marijuana. Bush defended his opposition to the initiative, which he saw as a path to full legalization like in Colorado, and he opposed that move. But he pointed out that Florida had passed legislation to allow for the specialized marijuana oil use to treat children with certain conditions. Bush also supported allowing states to make their own choices on legalization.

Christie, then, said the drug war has failed, and pointed out New Jersey directed non-violent first offenders to treatment not jail, and yet he repeated every drug warrior argument that he could think of, calling marijuana a "gateway drug" and saying it was a threat to productivity, as though that's something the federal matter.

Furthermore, he tried to defend himself from Paul's criticism by pointing out that New Jersey allows for medical marijuana use. This was an odd defense, to say the least, because Christie has a lengthy history of criticism of the viability of marijuana as a medical tool. He was so resistant to it, and his administration had dragged its feet on it so much, ReasonTV even did a video about it:

Carly Fiorina also jumped into the discussion (for those who didn't watch the debate, enforcement of order was fairly lax). While she supported Paul's argument that states should make their own choices and that there needed to be more drug treatment and less mass incarceration of drug users, she wanted to make it clear that she felt drug use was dangerous and not something to be normalized. Fiorina's step-daughter, Lori, died in 2009 after a struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. Fiorina used her personal experience as an anecdote warning against recklessness.