Cut Chris Christie slack on medical marijuana — he’ll need it when Rand Paul is done with him

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.