Chris Christie Still Has Reefer Madness

Chris Christie says he would ignore states that have legalized marijuana if he became President. Fortunately, he will most likely never be President.

Marijuana Plant

Chris Christie is telling states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana that, if he’s elected President, he’ll use the full power of the Federal Government to crack down on them:

Residents in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana should toke up while they still can, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie, a Republican campaigning for the 2016 presidential nomination, said Tuesday during a town-hall meeting at the Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

At a time when a majority of Americans say recreational pot use should be legal, and four states have already made it so, Christie remains opposed. The former federal prosecutor said Democratic President Barack Obama has selectively chosen which laws to enforce.


The governor said he believes marijuana alters the brain and serves as a so-called gateway to the use of harder drugs. Pointing to his own administration of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program that he opposes, he said elected officials can’t unilaterally choose which statutes to enforce.

“That’s lawlessness,” he said. “If you want to change the marijuana laws, go ahead and change the national marijuana laws.”

This isn’t the first time that Christie has displayed an attitude that seems more appropriate for the 1950s era of movies like Reefer Madness than it does for an era when many Americans, and even many Republicans, believe that marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized. Christie has also been out of step with the even larger number of Americans who believe that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, and has used his power as Governor to make implementation of that state’s medical marijuana as difficult as possible. In his speeches on the issue, Christie has fallen back on the largely fallacious argument that marijuana is a “gateway drug” to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Christie’s position on marijuana legalization on the state legal is also nothing new. Additionally, back in April Christie made very similar comments about how he believed the Federal Government should treat people living in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. At that time, he essentially argued that Federal law in this area should trump state law even when a majority of a state’s population has spoken in favor of legalization as they have in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska.

Given the fact that Christie comes from the law enforcement background, and a Federal one at that, it is perhaps not surprising that he would take a position like this, but it’s unclear exactly why he thinks a position like this would help in a race for the Republican nomination. The national surveys that have shown majority support for legalization of marijuana have also shown strong support for the idea among self-identified Republicans and conservatives, and even greater support for medical marijuana. Even many Republican politicians have advocated a less “law and order stance” on the issue in recent years. Most importantly, perhaps, polling has shown that most Republican voters believe that states that choose to legalize marijuana should be allowed to do so and that the Federal Government should not act in the manner that Christie is suggesting here. This is largely consistent with the support for federalism that has been a part of Republican ideology for some time now, and it’s unclear why Christie would be taking a position that is so opposed to something that has been a central part of the Republican platform going back to the Reagan era.

Perhaps this is Christie’s effort to get media traction prior to the upcoming debate amid a campaign atmosphere that is dominated by talk of Donald Trump. For the past month now, most of the other GOP candidates have had trouble getting anything in the way of national media attention given the fact that Trump is sucking up all the oxygen in the room. The closest anyone has come to getting through that din has been Mike Huckabee, who has gotten a lot of media attention in the last several days with his idiotic and offensive comments analogizing the Iran nuclear deal to the Holocaust. Even under that theory, though, it’s unclear why Christie would choose this as a hill to die on. The only people who are going to care about what he said here are the people who either support legalization or support the idea that the states should be allowed to decide this issue for themselves. It may get him press, but it’s not going to be good press. And that’s why marijuana user in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska probably don’t really need to worry about Chris Christie being President.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Facebones says:

    People like this are the reason it’s next to impossible to have a rational discussion about drugs or prison reform in this country.

    “We shouldn’t be putting people in jail for a decade because they had an ounce of pot.”


    However, since there was very little outrage or pearl clutching about Obama commuting the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, maybe we’re starting to turn a corner on this.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Federalism. Hahahaha
    States rights are important…until they ain’t.
    Christie is just another Republican hypocrite.

  3. al-Ameda says:


    However, since there was very little outrage or pearl clutching about Obama commuting the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, maybe we’re starting to turn a corner on this.

    I keep hoping that we’ve collectively tired of the carnage and
    ineffectiveness that is the 40 year War on Drugs.

  4. Guarneri says:


  5. Tyrell says:

    This is something that should be left up to the states and individual towns. This is the way it is done
    with alcohol sales. I think that there should be more studies about the health effects. I was in schools and we saw films on effects on the mind and body. I don’t know if that stuff is worse than tobacco or not. No one should be using their lungs as a furnace !
    People definitely should not be locked up for using, having, growing, or selling it. I would also want information about how addictive it is. We were taught like this: tobacco, then marijuana, then heroin, opium, morphine. It was like a ladder. Some towns and counties still don’t allow alcohol. How about impairment ? The movies we were shown had people who were so stoned they did not know what planet they were on. And how about residual effects, withdrawal, or brain damage / Has all that been studied scientifically? I have not read up to date studies. I still would be concerned about the message of legalization. And the implications on our culture.
    I remember our PE teacher had a sign that said “Get high on sports”.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    I’m 69 and smoked pot until there were drug tests for employment. I then started consuming copious quantities of brandy and and wine both of which were more harmful to my health than marijuana. . Christie seems to be be advocating the Calvinist philosophy that you have to be miserable on earth to find the the after life. He is such an a-hole.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    You are so fwcking cute!!!

  8. EddieInCA says:

    I smoke week once or twice a week to help me sleep during stressful times at work. It’s amazingly effective. I don’t use it to get high, but don’t begrudge anyone for doing so.

    Give me a stoner rather than an alcoholic to deal with any day. When was the last time you heard of someone stoned on weed beating up their spouse, or abusing their kids, or driving and causing a horrible accident?

  9. Franklin says:

    Although I am for pot legalization and therefore disagree with Christie, my reaction is actually a little bit of respect for him. Why?

    1) It’s rare to see a politician who publicly says something that is not only unpopular, but unlikely to even rile up the small segment of the population that agrees with him. My only conclusion is that he actually believes what he is saying.

    2) He’s actually kind of right about the federal laws. If you don’t like them, the better answer is to repeal them rather than ignore them.

  10. Hal_10000 says:

    1950s era of movies like Reefer Madness

    Reefer Madness is from 1936. That’s how long this hysteria has been going on.

    To be fair to Christie, he has been moving New Jersey toward a “treatment not prison” model to deal with drug users. So that’s … better, I guess. But the federal persecution of state-legal pot clinics has been disgusting. Juries are frequently not told that the accused was dealing pot legally under state license. The Feds act as though they were the Cali cartel or something and get convictions. Jurors, upon finding out how they were rooked, have been outraged by it, saying they would never have convicted had they known.

    I think what will happen if Christie or some ambitious AUSA goes after a legal pot dealer in Colorado is that they will try the same tactic and get a jury nullification. It’s increasingly impossible to put the marijuana genie back in the bottle. But maybe it will take defeats in the courts as well as the polls to make this clear.

    (And while I’m on the subject, we can thank justices Stephens, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter and Scalia for this abomination in their reprehensible Raich decision.)

  11. Neil Hudelson says:


    I would also want information about how addictive it is. We were taught like this: tobacco, then marijuana, then heroin, opium, morphine. It was like a ladder.

    About 9% of people who use marijuana can (not will) become addicted. It’s largely dependent on frequency of use. If you use it once a month or once a week, you are in very little danger. If you use it daily, your chance of becoming addicted goes up.

    Generally the addiction, however, is psychosomatic or habitual, not chemical (like alcohol, sugar, cocaine, heroine, etc–all of which are more addictive. Yes, including sugar.).

    The withdrawal effects last about a week, and include mild irritation and loss of appetite. Compare that with withdrawal of any other drug, and it’s laughable how scared some people are of marijuana. Here is the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol:

    “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink, persist for weeks, and range from mild anxiety and shakiness to severe complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens (also called DTs). The death rate from DTs — which are characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever — is estimated to range from 1% to 5%.”


    In short, marijuana is the least addictive of all of the common drugs, and represents the least harmful health effects of any popular recreational chemical.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The governor said he believes marijuana alters the brain and serves as a so-called gateway to the use of harder drugs.

    Hey Guv? You know what else is a gateway drug? Twinkies. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

  13. Neil Hudelson says:


    Yeah! Cuz he’s fat!

  14. Rick Fitzgerald says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Why are fat disgusting people always criticizing smokers? I smoke cigarettes and smoke some of the finest weed on a daily basis. I am pretty successful and do not use any other drugs or pills. I understand if you have issues with cigs but pot is a whole different matter. It’s always morons like Christie who have never smoked weed that have the biggest issues with it.

    to me, Obesity is a Much bigger problem than Cigs and weed. I can sympathize with poor people who are obese who lack the money to buy nutritional food, but Christie has no excuse. He can eat whatever he wants at no expense. He really has no shame because if he did, he wouldn’t like a Big Fat Pig.

  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    …it’s unclear why Christie would choose this as a hill to die on.

    Um, because the “brown hoards,” “sluts who need abortions,” “they gonna take ah guns” and “march Jews to the ovens” hills are already occupied? As you noted, with Trump sucking all of the air out of the room, a guy needs something to get leverage for press coverage. It’s too bad he entered so late that all the good hills were taken, but I can’t help that.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    I’d admit to smoking weed but of course in my case it’s medicine. I get it from a dispensary so it must be. I use it to treat a medical condition whose exact description I’ve forgotten, but hey, I’m 61: gotta be something wrong with me, right?

    I use it paradoxically to diet. Weed, unlike alcohol, does not have calories. I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last three months in part by subbing zero-calorie weed for my beloved whiskey at 70 calories a fluid ounce. It’s my reward for not eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s but restricting myself to a 300 calorie scoop of Half Baked. (I know, appropriate ice cream choice, right?)

    Maybe Christie should try it. I could send him my marijuana dieting tips.

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    @Rick Fitzgerald: I have a physical scheduled in 2 weeks and I already know what my doctor is going to tell me – I need to quit smoking and I drink too much. Of course he’s right on both counts. But at least I’m not fat!

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Franklin: Per Gallup, a slim majority of Americans support legalization of pot. It has 36 % support among Republicans and 31% amongst “conservatives”. I’d guess that approval among GOP primary voters is way lower. As @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: so eloquently points out, it may not be a great issue, but for GOP primaries it’s a good issue.

  19. Rick Fitzgerald says:

    @michael reynolds:

    My dad is 78 and has trouble sleeping, It’s his main issue along with a few other ailments that comes with age. I gave him an Indica OG Kush & Sativa Sour diesel and has literally changed his life. He sleeps well and can go to the gym more as the pain has subsided. I could have waited around for my state to have some kind of MM program but my dad would still be suffering while ignorant politicians debated if this was good for them politically.

  20. Electroman says:

    I haven’t toked since before my commission ceremony, which was in ’82. I’m all for MM programs; even strictly recreational. I’m not likely to partake, though – old habits die hard.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I really don’t care if he’s fat, but his obesity is a hell of a lot more of a problem (for him) than somebody smoking 2 joints a week is (for them). So maybe he should try taking care of the mote in his own eye before worrying about the speck in somebody else’s?

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Rick Fitzgerald:

    Yep. I broke an 18 year Ambien habit with a half a joint and a melatonin.

  23. Rick Fitzgerald says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Very nice and I’m sure if may have given you ideas for your writing.

  24. JohnMcC says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Very good point my fellow redneck! Back in the ’30’s when ‘Reefer Madness’ was made, the mover and shaker of MJ prohibition was Mr Harry Anslinger (as nasty a piece of work as you can imagine). He connected cannabis to blacks (all those jazz musicians!) and Mexicans (bringing their indigenous drugs across the RioGrand!) with the unspoken implication that they were destroying the precious caucasian race. Now that you’ve pointed out the similarity of zeitgeist, whoooop! There it is for all to see.

  25. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Thanks for this information. I will study it and research further.

  26. Paul Hooson says:

    He’s such a flawed character that he needs to attack something else as a moral wrong in what psychiatrists would call classic “reaction formation” psychology…

  27. ernieyeball says:

    “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.”
    ―Gilbert Shelton