Mary Katharine Ham has written a book with Guy Benson, “End of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun)” It’s in bookstores tomorrow! Please order. You’ll enjoy. It is not about pot.
In which I discuss marijuana policy again with Bill O’Reilly, who is loving Gov. Chris Christie’s declaration that he would reinstate federal prosecution of marijuana offenses in states that have legalized the drug.
WASHINGTON — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’d revive enforcement of federal marijuana law in states that have legalized recreational use of the drug if he were president.
And he says if that position causes him political trouble in battleground Colorado, so be it. He says he won’t pander to voters or hide his positions for political expediency.
Federal and some state laws on marijuana are in conflict. But the federal government has adopted a hands-off approach to states with lenient marijuana laws. The Justice Department has told such states that it won’t challenge their laws so long as marijuana is tightly regulated. Colorado is one of them.
By the way, though the Post gives the Obama administration credit for easing off on states that have legalized, that has not always been the case. Despite explicitly promising not to during his campaign, Obama aggressively cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries during his term before this change in tune, much to the dismay of marijuana legalization advocates who nonetheless probably turned out for him in Colorado. Ugh, maybe we should ban pot.
And, lest I treat Christie’s comments with as little thoroughness as the Post covered Obama’s record on this subject, let me note that he also advocated for some much more libertarian and compassionate sounding treatment of drug offenders in this same discussion:
Christie, who has not yet declared that he is running for president, said the country needs to do more to help people who abuse drugs get the treatment they needed.
“What I’ve been saying in New Jersey is that we can no longer incarcerate our way out of this problem. We need to give treatment,” he said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “No other disease do we say to folks, ‘no, no, no, you don’t deserve treatment.’ That somehow it’s a moral failing. This is a disease like anything else. I think quite frankly the war on drugs has been a failure.”
But when it comes to marijuana, which Christie has called a “gateway drug,” the New Jersey governor said that, as president, he would prosecute states that allowed for recreational marijuana use. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has instructed federal prosecutors to refrain from prosecuting state-legal operations. Since Colorado legalized marijuana, charges filed in state courts have plummeted.
If elected, Christie said he would reverse that guidance and direct prosecutors to go after states that allow for legal recreational use. He has called medicinal marijuana in his state a “front,” and has vowed not to legalize recreational use of the drug. In March, he said legalizing marijuana would be counterproductive to improving drug treatment efforts.
I’m not sure how giving treatment instead of incarceration on one hand squares with going after peaceable, legal marijuana dispensaries on the other. It just seems like the two are at cross-purposes since a lot of the prosecutions might end in harsh punishments for people using legal drugs, whom he says he’d like to treat in a more effective way anyway. But maybe he’s envisioning a crackdown with the new Christie treatment regime in place, in which case the arrests and prosecutions would lead to treatment not incarceration.
As a political calculation, probably not a bad grab for law-and-order conservatives and an older reliably Republican demographic. That’s not to say he’s being disingenuous. I think this former prosecutor has seen plenty of the bad side of drugs. But even though Republicans are less friendly to marijuana legalization than Democrats (39% vs a clear majority), Republicans also aren’t super-keen on forceful presidents deciding to actively strongarm a state into ignoring the wishes of its own citizens.
Enjoy the show, and please stick around for Bill’s and my discussion of my book with Guy Benson, “End of Discussion.” It comes out tomorrow, and you can purchase it online or anywhere books are sold! Please do. It’s a fun read on an important subject. I promised to get Bill an audio version because I know how much he loves to listen to me talk for hours at a time, uninterrupted. I think he’s in.