Lead photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie really, really hates cannabis. As the head of Donald Trump’s White House commission on opioids, Christie has done little to stop the spread of prescription painkillers and heroin, but has continued at every turn to demonize marijuana, ignoring piles of data that suggest cannabis could be the missing link in helping America curb its insatiable appetite for opioids.
According to Fox’s Indianapolis affiliate, Christie once again put his foot in his mouth when his keynote address to Indiana’s annual prescription drug symposium. His remarks quickly turned from a rebuke of the pharmaceutical industry and a call for increased availability to overdose reversal drugs, to a diatribe against legalized marijuana.
To start his address, Christie actually offered useful bits of wisdom to the crowd of politicians and medical professionals, including a push to train doctors to prescribe painkillers more judiciously and for the pharmaceutical industry to develop less dangerous drugs.
"The people who are dying today in large measure are dying because we refused to acknowledge the problem we created," Christie said. "It was easier for us to just ignore it, until we could ignore it no longer."
But when it came time to move past the problems and onto solutions, Christie turned a blind eye to the increasingly accepted benefits of marijuana for both pain relief and addiction, and instead decided to once again perpetuate demonizing lies about the plant-based medicine.
"Marijuana legalization will lead to more drug use, not less drug use, will lead to more death not less death, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse has proven it,” said Christie. “There is no reason, if I told you today that anything would make your child two and a half time more likely to be addicted to opioids, you would be getting them as far away from it as you possibly could."
Of course, that is all complete bullshit, right down to the government source Christie cited.
In fact, an update to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) website in May of this year explicitly added language confirming marijuana’s benefit in fighting opioid abuse, stating: “[NIDA] found an association between medical marijuana legalization and a reduction in overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers, an effect that strengthened in each year following the implementation of legislation.”
Further, if Christie had actually been paying attention to his job, he would have seen a recent report from the Los Angeles Times which cited California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996, as having one of the nation’s lowest opioid-induced death rates — a far cry from “two and a half times more likely to be addicted,” as Christie put it.
Christie and the White House opioid commission are reportedly releasing their final report and list of recommendations to President Trump sometime this week, but after last week’s lackluster health emergency declaration and Christie’s more recent comments, we’re guessing the commission’s recommendations will omit any significant changes and simply continue on the same deadly path we’re already walking.
As New Jersey residents have already realized in their still-burgeoning fight for recreational cannabis legalization, real change will only come after Christie leaves office. Sadly, it appears the same can be said for America’s continued opioid epidemic.
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