Chris Christie should be taken to the intellectual woodshed for any number of things — and he will, in time, by guys like Rand Paul — but one of them is not a New Jersey bill on medical marijuana.

The New Jersey governor has now indicated that he’ll sign off on a medical marijuana bill with some slight alterations.

The governor signaled that he would sign the bill if the Legislature made two changes:

– That edible forms of marijuana would be available to qualified minors only, not for everyone;

– That both a pediatrician and a psychiatrist should sign off on a child’s prescription

Current law allows New Jersey patients to get medical marijuana, but the bill, S2842, would eliminate a limit on the number of marijuana strains that the state’s dispensaries can cultivate — ostensibly making it more likely that they would carry versions that certain patients seek.

It also would simplify the application process for minors, who currently are required to obtain three letters of support — from the prescribing physician, a pediatrician and a psychiatrist. The bill would require minors, like adults, to obtain a single letter.

I never really understood Republican opposition to medical marijuana. If a guy’s kid has some weird disease, in which the symptoms can be alleviated by using the drug, and a doctor signs off on it, why would anyone seek to deny him? Why has marijuana been arbitrarily deemed completely off limits, when countless Americans pop pharmaceutical drugs into their mouths on a daily basis? Many are arguably more dangerous than pot.

It seems that the public policy decision that would maximize individual freedom and liberty in this case would be to allow such a drug to be available to sick individuals (and, dare I say it, the nation at large?). Why do we arrest nonviolent criminals for possessing marijuana and then put them in cages with deranged thugs who are violent? Making a drug legal doesn’t mean that we have to actively promote it as a society; it just means that it is available.

Individuals who grow up in strong healthy families generally don’t abuse drugs. When you treat people like adults, they tend to act like adults. When you deny people something, human nature makes them more curious about the thing being withheld from them. People who experiment with pot have not caused the moral degradation of our society; people who play sociological experiments with other humans through public policy have degraded our society.

Conservatives who spend time, money and resources attacking Chris Christie in the coming months and years over his stance on medicinal marijuana will be wasting just as much time as … kids who smoke pot in basements. There are plenty of things to intellectually club the New Jersey governor of the head with. His habit of annoying people who want to be his ally? Check. National security? Check. Losing faith in the free market when disaster strikes (i.e., his sudden fondness for price controls after a hurricane)? Check.

Perhaps George Will put it best:

“Well, actually there is a rising libertarian stream that Chris Christie has said is ‘a very dangerous thought,’” Will said. “So let’s be clear about what libertarianism is and what it isn’t. It is not anarchism. It has a role in government. What libertarianism says — it comes in many flavors and many degrees of severity, and it basically says before the government abridges the freedom of an individual or the freedom of several individuals contracting together, that government ought to have, A) a compelling reason and B) a constitutional warrant for doing so. Now, if Mr. Christie thinks that’s a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that Mr. Christie himself may be dangerous.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be that doesn’t involve doing drugs of any kind.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

9 comments

  1. If you saw the EXTREME abuse of “medical Marijuana” here in CA, you might understand this republican/conservative’s resistance. What do you think “medical marijuana” treats? It is not a pain reliever. Its ONLY proven use is to stimulate appetite and relieve nausea in chemotherapy patients.

    ALL other studies showing other benefits have been less than repeatable. But, the apocryphal claims of “relief” are endless.

    The active ingredients of MJ have been studied and extracted and are available in pill form. Lung problems from smoking the herb are similar and as dangerous as tobacco.

    With the heavy abuse I see, prescription medication being sold, here in CA with no easily administered test to show intoxication and no repeatable metabolism rate (unlike alcohol), driving under the influence is a problem.

    1. The guy who recently confronted Christie had a daughter whose seizures are stopped or diminished with pot. Nothing you’ve said convinces me that a doctor should be forbidden from giving her the drug.

      Likewise, if a guy has terminal cancer and wants to smoke pot to ease his pain (yes, perpetual nausea is considered pain), I’m not sure why you or anyone else should be able to come between him and the doctor.

    2. If strictly controlled by Doctors, I might have little complaint. You just made a statement that shows how misinformation has been disseminated to us all. MJ does not reduce pain of cancer, it tends to enhance it. Reduction of nausea is a valid and significant use of MJ, but CA is supposed to be “Doctor prescription only” and a few minutes and a few questions in a pot clinic/store here shows that permanent prescriptions are available for a few dollars and the abuse is rampant. Heavy “recreational” use is obvious and the clinics are little more than cannabis bars and redistribution centers.

      Much of the prescription stuff gets into the recreational community. And again, just like abuse of any other prescription drug, unlike alcohol, rec users have no object but to get high, with all its resultant problems.

    3. I honestly don’t get why a doctor could prescribe “pill x” that, if abused, is much more dangerous than pot, but because most people aren’t chemists they don’t care and instead focus on pot. It’s weird to me.

      I think if you legalized pot tomorrow you would not see any sharp increase in usage at all. There might be a temporary jump, but in general the people who are going to do it are going to do it. If medical marijuana is legal and individuals abuse the law, then go after them. But don’t penalize the sick man who is perpetually nauseous or the little girl who has 30 seizures a day.

      In short (and it appears we’ll have to agree to disagree), I don’t feel as though I need to know the ins-and-outs of what medical marijuana does for any number of diseases. In my mind, that’s for the doctor and the patient to figure out.

  2. marijuana should just be legalized. the ravages of alcohol are significantly more costly to society than weed will ever be. and Obama’s DoJ assault on state’s making their own decisions will inevitably drive younger voters away from Democrats to libertarians. if the GOP wants to be viable, this issue, at this time in our history, could be their ticket.

    and Doug is absolutely right. legally prescribed opiates are also incredibly dangerous. what starts as legitimate pain management can quickly turn into dependency. I know people trying to kick pills, and marijuana is a safe alternative.

    just ask Sanjay Gupta.

    1. It looks like we’re basically in agreement on this one, Lizard19. While I don’t use drugs, it seems rather arbitrary to decide that pot will bring about the destruction of the civilized world if it ever becomes legal in all 50 states. Like you said, the pain and anguish alcohol abuse poses to families and communities far surpasses pot.

      I agree with my brother: For every 99 people who want to use their free will to burn out by smoking pot daily, one sick person who could legitimately be helped by it should not suffer.

    2. Yeah, I find myself agreeing with Lizard19 here as well. I don’t use drugs (and never will), but he’s got a point about alcohol; it tears up more families than pot ever has or ever will. I don’t have a problem with marijuana being legalized for medical purposes.

  3. Weed is de facto legal in most of Vermont, Massachussets, Maine, and New York and is in fact easier to obtain on college campus than alcohol.

    Not having a medical degree I’ll leave the argument over it’s medicinal benefits to those who do hold such credentials.

  4. I do not use drugs nor do I plan on using drugs. With that said I have seen a person benefit from them. I think it has its place if used properly but I not being a medical doctor cannot tell you what properly is.

    I see positives and benefits from legalizing marijuana.

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