Other than an unfortunate incident that involved me accidentally ingesting half a bag of weed infused Chex Mix and going into an alternate dimension for 48 hours (a long story for another time), I've never really used Marijuana as it just doesn't do all that much for me. However, the overwhelming evidence that weed is a) not harmful, b) hugely beneficial medically, and c) a massive boon to the economy, means that it impossible to entertain the notion that cracking down on its use in the 21st century is in any way sane.
Being humane or rational has never been the hallmark of any Republican politician, but Chris Christie's recent vow to crack down on the marijuana use in the face of its spreading legalization in America shows just how completely out of touch with reality he is. Speaking on the Hugh Hewitt show earlier this week, Christie told his conservative compadre that a Christie White House would crack down on the plant because it apparently is 'a gateway drug'. Here's the exchange:
Hewitt: Right now, we've got the states of Colorado and Washington flaunting federal law by allowing people to sell dope legally. If you're the President of the United States, are you going to enforce the federal drug laws in those states?
Christie: Absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it.
Hewitt: All right, next ...
Christie: Marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.
Firstly, the reality is that the majority of Americans favor pot legalization, a trend that has been growing steadily for the past 45 years. Christie's inability to tune into this growing awareness of reality (ie. that it's not harmful) shows you just how out of sync he is with today's cultural zeitgeist.
Furthermore, the entire premise that marijuana is a gateway drug to worse stuff is so patently absurd that only someone appealing to idiocy would use it as a serious argument. Marijuana is a lot of things to a lot of different people - to young kids it can be a way to cope with the pressures of being a teenager; to migraine sufferers it can provide massive pain relief; and to cancer patients it could potentially be lifesaving medicine. Can marijuana be abused? Of course - as can alcohol, as can glue, and as can food (something Christie knows a lot about). Laying the blame on marijuana for people using crystal meth is like blaming ropes for suicide. Study after study shows that those who use hard drugs are often from broken homes or have serious issues with clinical depression. As developmental neuroscientist and professor of developmental psychology Marc Lewis (Phd) writes:
A famous study (link is external) using a huge sample (17,000) looked at Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in relation to subsequent physical and mental problems. The results of the study are nicely summarized in the Sept. 25/2011 issue of The Fix(link is external). Take-home message: the relationship between trauma and addiction is unquestionable. An ACE score was calculated for each participant, based on the number of types of adverse experience they reported during childhood or adolescence. The higher the ACE score, the more likely people were to end up an alcoholic, drug-user, food-addict, or smoker (among other things).
Accepting the actual evidence would mean looking at the root causes of addiction and substance abuse rather than the offering cheap political stunts designed to appeal to dinosaur conservatives convinced pot smoking will turn America into a socialist hippie commune where no one works and mass orgies replace Sunday church going. But Republicans like Christie are not interested in evidence or solutions, they are interested in promoting irrational fear and getting elected.
It is remarkable that we still have to have this discussion about the sovereignty of one's body, particularly when it largely revolves around a plant. If you are not free to ingest a weed that grows in the dirt, doesn't harm you, makes you calmer, less aggressive and might potentially save your life, then what exactly does freedom (i.e the constitution) mean? Not that Chris Christie has much respect for laws anyway.
Time to move on Mr Christie, the rest of America already has.