2016: When Republican presidential candidates will finally take drug policy reform seriously

In New Jersey, Christie in particular has poured significant time and resources as governor into championing a program for the state that treats drug users as disease victims in need of treatment, instead of punishment. Since he was elected in 2010, Christie has advocated for drug courts that sentence nonviolent offenders to mandatory treatment programs in lieu of jail time. For help, he’s partnered with local community groups, drug rehabilitation centers and New Jersey churches to implement a plan to make access to drug treatment available throughout the state in cooperation with state government initiatives.

Last week, Christie spent several hours discussing the program with policymakers, treatment advocates and recovering drug addicts at a forum at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The summit, called “The Many Faces of Addiction: Ending the Stigma,” was designed to highlight how the reality of addiction differs from the stereotypical depiction of addicts. The event aimed to show that people from every race and socio-economic class suffer from drug addiction, and it featured testimonials from recovering users. Christie is also backing a campaign for former and current addicts to tell their own stories in an effort to show how widespread the problem is…

“There but for the grace of God go I. That’s how I look at addiction,” Christie said at the summit, echoing his remarks from the spring.