Last month, we noted that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has promised to crack down on Colorado marijuana laws if he's elected president.
Based on this statement alone, Christie would seem likely to receive the poorest marks from marijuana advocacy groups when it comes to the cannabis policies of presidential candidates.
But in a report card just published by StopTheDrugWar.org, Christie doesn't trail everyone else.
Instead, he winds up second-to-the-last — or tied for last owing to the organization's decision not to use any letter lower than an "F."
Last week, we cited StopTheDrugWar.org in the context of our report about Operation Black Rhino, a two-pronged Colorado bust that neatly coincided with a United Nations report that cited numerous drug-war-related failures. In the words of David Borden, the organization's executive director, the U.N. document "dutifully laid out what some of the key harms of the current system are. But the report fails to note that the system itself is a cause of those harms, not a solution for them. Prohibiting drugs sends both use and the trade in drugs into a criminal underground, generating untold profits for drug lords and causing terrible harms to many users."
The presidential grades were prepared by Drug Reform Coordination Network, the lobbying arm of StopTheDrugWar.org, and while Democrats generally receive better reviews than do Republicans, that's not universally the case. Both Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (he gets an "A-") and Texas Governor Rick Perry (a "B") grade out better than does Hillary Clinton (a "B-") and Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn't declared his candidacy but is "considered a potential contender," the piece maintains.
Biden earned a "D," by the way.
Nonetheless, the lowest ranked candidates are all members of the GOP, and several of the past quotes intended to delineate their positions specifically mention or make reference to Colorado.
Here's the photo-illustrated bottom five, featuring StopTheDrugWar.org text. To read the complete piece, click here.
Ben Carson, Grade: D
The author and retired neurosurgeon, a hero of social conservatives, rejects marijuana legalization and cites the discredited "gateway theory" for doing so, but has expressed some openness toward medical marijuana.
Carson on marijuana policy:
"I think medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases certainly has been proven to be useful. But recognize that marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs—sometimes legal, sometimes illegal — and I don’t think this is something that we really want for our society. You know, we’re gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity and you know, it’s just, we’re changing so rapidly to a different type of society and nobody is getting a chance to discuss it because, you know, it’s taboo. It’s politically incorrect. You’re not supposed to talk about these things." — Fox News, Jan. 2, 2014
Marco Rubio, Grade: D
The young Florida senator staunchly opposes marijuana legalization, but has expressed some support for medicinal use of non-psychoactive forms of medical marijuana (CBD cannabis oil). He has wobbled on the states' rights issue.
Rubio on marijuana policy:
"If there are medicinal uses of marijuana that don’t have the elements that are mind-altering or create the high but do alleviate whatever condition it may be they are trying to alleviate, that is something I would be open to." — Tampa Bay Times, July 30, 2014
"Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced." — ABC News, May 15, 2014
"The bottom line is, I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that’s legal is not good for the country, I understand there are people that have different views on it, but I feel strongly about that." — Yahoo! News, May 19, 2014
[Spokesman]: "Senator Rubio believes legalization of marijuana for recreational use is a bad idea, and that the states that are doing it may well come to regret it. Of course, states can make decisions about what laws they wish to apply within their own borders." — Politico, Jan. 31, 2015
"I’m against the legalization of marijuana." — C-SPAN, Feb. 27, 2015
[When asked if he would enforce federal law and shut down regulation in Colorado:] "Yes. Yes, I think, well, I think we need to enforce our federal laws. Now do states have a right to do what they want? They don’t agree with it, but they have their rights. But they don’t have a right to write federal policy as well. It is, I don’t believe we should be in the business of legalizing additional intoxicants in this country for the primary reason that when you legalize something, what you’re sending a message to young people is it can’t be that bad, because if it was that bad, it wouldn’t be legal." — Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, April 14, 2015
Scott Walker, Grade: D
The Wisconsin governor opposes either decriminalization or legalization because marijuana is a "gateway" drug, but did sign a limited bill allowing for the use of non-psychoactive CBD cannabis oil by children.
Walker on marijuana policy:
"Now there are people who abuse (alcohol), no doubt about it, but I think it’s a big jump between someone having a beer and smoking marijuana." —Huffington Post, Feb. 13, 2014
"From my standpoint, I still have concerns about making it legal. I understand from the libertarian standpoint, the argument out there. I still have concerns. I’m not, unlike the President, I still have difficulty visualizing marijuana and alcohol in the same vein." — CNN, Jan. 30, 2014
[Discussing a Wisconsin county sheriff’ who shares his position on marijuana legalization:] "Even there, the Democrat sheriff said to me last year when this issue came up, ‘Whatever you do, please do not sign the legalization of marijuana.’ This was a guy who spent his whole career in law enforcement. He was liberal on a whole lot of other issues. But he said it’s a gateway drug." — Wisconsin State Journal, March 31, 2015
Chris Christie, Grade: F
The New Jersey governor not only opposes marijuana legalization, but has spoken out repeatedly against states that have legalized it. He opposed the New Jersey medical marijuana law, which was passed before he became governor, and has hampered its effectiveness with strict limitations he has imposed.
Christie on marijuana policy:
"[Marijuana legalization]’s not gonna come while I’m here … See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high. To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that." — International Business Times, July 25, 2014
[In response to the question,"If you were president, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"] "Probably not well. Not well, but we’ll see. We’ll have to see what happens." — Huffington Post, June 20, 2014
[When asked if he would enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized and regulated marijuana:] "Absolutely, I will crack down and not permit it." …
"States should not be permitted to sell it and profit [from legalizing marijuana]." — Huffington Post, April 14, 2015
Rick Santorum, Grade: F
The former US senator from Pennsylvania rejects marijuana legalization for any purpose, does not believe states have the right to set their own pot policies, and supports enforcing federal drug laws even in states that have voted to legalize it.
Santorum on marijuana and drug policy:
"I think Colorado is violating the federal law. And if we have controlled substances, they’re controlled substances for a reason. The federal law is there for a reason, and the states shouldn’t have the option to violate federal law. As Abraham Lincoln said, you know, states don’t have the right to wrong." — HughHewitt.com, April 16, 2015
"The federal government does have a role in making sure that drug use—that states don’t go out and legalize drugs. That there are drugs that are hazardous to people, that do cause great harm to the individual as well as society to the whole. And the federal government has a role in making sure those drugs are not in this country and not available and that people who use them illegally are held accountable. Ideally states should enforce these laws but the federal government has a role because it is a public health issue for the country." — Santorum campaign event, Jan. 9, 2012