It’s been just under two weeks since his political career imploded in spectacularly casual fashion, so let’s check in with the lovable and charismatic Chris Christie.
Now that it’s clear the New Jersey governor is more likely to serve time in federal prison than he is to fetch even so much as a McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish in President-elect Donald Trump’s White House, Christie is free to do things like actually govern.
In Jersey—where Christie is implicated in the creation a life-threatening, record-breaking traffic jam, punishment for a mayor who dared not endorse his Goodfellas-style governance—this involves going on talk radio to engage with the people on their level. Or, failing that, to drag them down with him.
In the latest installment of “Ask the Governor” on New Jersey 101.5 FM, a caller had the temerity to suggest to Christie that taxing recreational marijuana could be a source of income for the state—just as it’s been in Colorado, Washington, and literally every other place in the union that decided to give regulation a chance rather than letting the cartels have a monopoly on cannabis.
As thoughtful and subtle as a garbage-collection truck with no brakes as always, Christie took this as an opportunity to both berate the caller—and tell a few convenient lies.
“Are you high right now?” the governor asked the caller. “To me, legalization of marijuana for tax purposes, and you can’t justify it any other way, is blood money.”
“I have watched too many kids start their addiction with alcohol and marijuana and then move on to much more serious drugs,” he added. “And every study shows marijuana is a gateway drug.”
As for legalizing cannabis? Christie would rather stand in the George Washington Bridge traffic he created than see it happen. In fact he vowed to be the state’s very own Jersey barrier, blocking drug-policy reform any way he can.
“You’re damn right I’m the only impediment,” he said, before comparing cannabis legalization to legalizing heroin (which we do; it’s called “Oxycontin,” Chris) as well as cocaine and PCP.
“There’s nothing we spend in government” that would justify taxing cannabis in Jersey—a state where gambling is legal, mind you—because that would involve “willfully poison[ing] our children for that money,” he continued, in full-on Alex Jones-mode. “That’s blood money.”
You can watch the full exchange below.
Now that we’ve wiped the spittle from our lips and our microphones, let’s unpack this rant for a second.
This should come as no surprise. This is the same Chris Christie who vowed to use the powers of the White House to sabotage Colorado’s successful legalization program—a fine display of conservative, small-government “values”—and who has done just about everything in his constitutional powers to subvert his state’s medical marijuana program.
Keep in mind that a limited legalization scheme is supported by 58 percent of New Jersey voters, according to a 2015 poll. Yet the Turnpike State still has draconian laws that punish simple possession of the drug with up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail—or more time behind bars for a joint than any of Christie’s former aides have yet to serve for their roles in the Bridgegate scandal.
Several New Jersey lawmakers went on a fact-finding trip to Colorado to see how legalization is working there. Had Christie gone along, or bothered to Google any facts, he would know that cannabis use among teens dipped slightly after legalization, and that marijuana has helped cash-strapped cities across the state fill potholes, hire cops—and even help kids get to school.
But beyond just ignoring the truth, Christie is happy to tell lies, repeating the beyond-exploded “gateway theory,” something addiction specialists disavow. Even the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that the majority of cannabis users do not go on to use other, harder drugs—and that the ones who do may have been genetically predisposed to do so anyway.
Chris Christie, ladies and gentlemen. Barring a recall or an indictment in federal prison, we have more dollops of insight from the Jersey Barrier to look forward to for another 14 months.