During the CNN Republican Presidential Debate, which aired on the cable news network September 16, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Governor Jeb Bush to the woodshed over their stated policies on marijuana.
Christie was attacked by Paul over his proposal to use federal law to eliminate state medical and recreational marijuana programs. Governor Bush was challenged about his NO vote on Florida's 2014 state referendum on medical marijuana.
Governor Christie agreed with the stated summary of his position as follows: "If you are getting high in Colorado today... enjoy it until January of 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana."
Governor Christie offered the unique opinion that it is a Pro-Life stance to support the end of the drug war.
Christie claimed his state is the first in the nation to adopt a policy where, "If you are a non-violent, non-dealing drug user that you don't go to jail on a first offense. You go to mandatory treatment."
Leaning forward he personalized the speech to debate moderator Jake Tapper. "You see, Jake, I'm Pro-Life. I think you need to be Pro-Life for more than just the time in the womb." He included drug offenders and troubled teens as people whom the Pro-Life movement consider equally important as an unborn fetus.
He followed with, "But that doesn't mean we should be legalizing gateway drugs." He then identified marijuana users as low-producers who victimize their employers, their families and their children. He cited this victimization as the reason he'll enforce federal marijuana laws on adults using marijuana regardless of state programs.
Sen. Paul said Gov. Christie isn't "really believing in the 10th Amendment" if he is going to use federal law to overrule state laws, specifically marijuana laws. "If a young mother is trying to give her child cannabis oil, or medical marijuana, as a seizure treatment, (Gov. Christie) would put her in jail because it violates federal law."
Gov. Christie tried to modify his previous statement to only include recreational marijuana use, saying, "We have medical marijuana in New Jersey." Sen. Paul quickly pointed out that the anti-marijuana federal rules Christie would use could cut both medical and recreational programs.
"That's not consistent with the 10th Amendment, it's not consistent with state's rights and it's not consistent with a conservative vision for the country."
In explaining his own position Sen. Paul said, "I would let Colorado do what the 10th Amendment says. We were never intended to have crimes at the federal level... Colorado has made their decision and I don't want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail who are trying to get medicine for their children."
Jeb Bush tried to present Florida as a state where people get "a second chance" through drug courts.
Rand Paul called him out on hypocrisy.
"In Florida, Governor Bush campaigned against medical marijuana. That means that a small child like Morgan Hintz that has 500 seizures a day and is failing on 9 traditional medications is not allowed to use cannabis oil, and if they attempt to do that in Florida they will take the child away and put the parents in jail. That's what that means, if you're against allowing people to use medical marijuana."
The drug war has become a tool of social segregation. "Kids who had privilege like you do don't go to jail but the poor, inner city kids do go to jail. I don't think that is fair."
Gov. Bush admitted he'd voted no on the 2014 statewide medical marijuana ballot proposal because "it was the first step towards getting us to a Colorado place."
Michigan's next big marijuana conference is a few short days away! Join Rick Thompson for the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference on September 26 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre. Marijuana Case Law Update, Legislative Review, so many other topics! 9 Seminars in all.