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Chris Christie: "I will crack down and not permit" legal marijuana as president
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) becomes president of the United States, he said on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" Tuesday, he will "crack down" on those states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana.
When asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal drug laws in those states that have legalized and regulated cannabis, Christie responded unequivocally.
"Absolutely," Christie said. "I will crack down and not permit it."
Citing an "enormous addiction problem" in the U.S., Christie, who has not yet announced a presidential run but has launched a political action committee, said that a very clear message needs to be sent "from the White House on down through federal law enforcement."
"States should not be permitted to sell it and profit" from legalizing marijuana, he said.
Cannabis is still prohibited under federal law. States that have legalized marijuana, for recreational or medical purposes, rely on guidance from Attorney General Eric Holder urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal operations.
Opposition to marijuana reforms is nothing new from Christie. As governor of New Jersey, he has been a vocal critic, calling medical marijuana programs that 23 states have already enacted a "front" for full recreational legalization. On the prospects for legalizing recreational marijuana in his own state, Christie has said, "Not on my watch." Last year, when asked how a President Christie would treat states that have legalized marijuana, he said, "Probably not well."
But what is surprising is that a majority of Republicans disagree with Christie's stance, according to the most recent polling from Pew Research Center. Fifty-four percent told Pew that the federal government should not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana -- that is, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
Moreover, while only 39 percent of all Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana, 49 percent of those who identify as more moderate are in favor of legalization, according to Pew. Among millennial Republicans, support for legalizing marijuana is significant -- 63 percent are in favor.
Not to mention that Christie would need more than just GOP votes to win in 2016, and Pew found that 53 percent of Americans support legalization.
Tom Angell, chairman of the marijuana policy reform group Marijuana Majority, said that Christie's comments put him out of step with most Americans and with most members of his own party.
"This is not only bad policy but is incredibly bad politics," Angell said. "If Christie wants to block sensible marijuana reforms in his own state of New Jersey, that's one thing. But it's especially unacceptable -- and not very conservative, I'd add -- for him to say he'd use federal resources to overturn the will of voters in a growing number of other states that are moving beyond prohibition.
"... Maybe he forgot that Colorado is an important swing state in presidential elections."