On Tuesday, Chris Christie spoke out against the drug war:
We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands this simple truth: every life has value and no life is disposable.
Erik Altieri wants the Jersey governor to back up his words with deeds:
While critiques of the War on Drugs are always welcomed (Governor Christie had previously made similar statements), it is hard to take his comments seriously when you consider his record regarding sensible reforms to New Jersey’s marijuana laws.
The same day he was calling for an end to this failed policy, two pieces of legislation that would have made pragmatic changes to New Jersey’s marijuana laws were sitting on his desk awaiting signature. The first would have allowed state farmers to receive licenses for industrial hemp cultivation as soon as the federal government changed the national policy on the issue. The other, Senate Bill 1220, would have ensured patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would be able to receive organ transplants and not be disqualified because of their medicinal use of cannabis. You would think that a governor who just stood at a podium and lambasted our prohibition as a failed policy, would immediately leave the stage and eagerly sign these pieces of legislation.
He didn’t. These two important measures sat on his desk, unsigned and were ultimately doomed to failure by Governor Christie’s pocket veto.
Balko calls Christie’s declaration “pretty significant” but adds caveats:
Though Christie admirably wants to end the cycle of incarceration, he also supports mandatory treatment for recreational drug users, even first-time offenders. That doesn’t exactly scream freedom. (The overwhelming majority of recreational drug users aren’t addicts, and aren’t in need of treatment.) And while New Jersey technically legalized medical marijuana nearly four years ago, Christie has done everything in his power to prevent it from actually happening. Finally, in 2012, Christie vetoed a “good Samaritan” bill that would have protected from criminal prosecution someone who calls 911 to report a drug overdose.
Sullum joins the conversation:
Although Christie’s version of the drug war may prove to be less bad than the ones waged by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (whose drug czars made similar noises), it should not be confused with drug peace, which requires renouncing the use of force against people whose only crime consists of consuming politically disfavored intoxicants or helping others do so.