Among numerous other reasons, his unyieldingly anti-marijuana stance has made Governor Chris Christie the most unpopular state governor of any state, in the past twenty years. And whether he’s taking that title and just running with it (because, let’s face it, his legacy cannot be “fixed” at this point) or simply remains blissfully oblivious to the peoples’ perception of him, it’s been made clear time and time again that he takes no issue with acting against the wishes of the American people.
During his bid for presidency, Christie stated that he would enforce federal policies on the plant and products derived from it-a position that, again, is critically unpopular among voting Americans. Well over half of the country supports legalization of marijuana in some form-either medicinally or on a recreational basis. Current federal law dictates that marijuana is a Schedule One illicit substance. This classification is defined by a “lack of medicinal value,” and a “high likelihood of abuse.” This means that the country’s favorite plant is in the same classification as drugs like LSD and heroin.
Even the American League, a conservative group and also the largest of all veterans’ groups in the country, has been urging the Trump administration to reclassify and conduct medical research on the plant. In fact, marijuana is one of the few issues where it seems that conservatives and liberals can find some common ground upon.
But in New Jersey, this information doesn’t seem to matter. Christie’s personal issues with marijuana are dramatically impacting communities and individuals within The Garden State. Since he has been denied the ability to go after pot on a federal level, it’s become his apparent mission to target those individuals whom he can effect-residents of New Jersey.
Every 22 minutes, state police make a marijuana possessions arrest. A report by the ACLU illustrates the steady rise of marijuana-related arrests since the year 2000, which have disproportionately impacted black communities.
Let’s take a look at 2013. In that year alone, marijuana arrests in New Jersey rose a staggering 26% from the number of arrests made in 2000. It was also during that year that racial disparity was noted at its highest, with black citizens being three times more likely to face arrest of marijuana than white folks. Nearly ninety percent of these arrests are of users, not traffickers and dealers who might pose an actual risk. Even the smallest amount of marijuana can have a New Jersey resident facing the maximum penalty.
These arrests drastically impact an individual’s future, as well. Removal of financial aid eligibility for students, loss of a job or driver’s license, a criminal record, about $1,300 in fines and even deportation of legal immigrants are but some of the results that can be seen after a person have been arrested for even a tiny amount of marijuana. Over the past ten years, over $1 billion in New Jersey tax dollars has been spent on enforcing this prohibition.
Perhaps the most alarming detail to be pulled from all of this is that Chris Christie now leads the Trump administration’s task force on handling the opioid addiction crisis that is taking lives all over the United States.
Now, imagine how much good that billion dollars could have done if it was spent on drug addiction rehabilitation and education, rather than arresting minorities over a joint.
Photo by DonkeyHotey