Now that marijuana-hating Jeff Sessions has been kicked out of the Department of Justice with extreme prejudice, the cannabis industry is safe and sound from a federal crackdown. Or is it? Some mainstream media sources have reported the former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been marked by President Trump to become the next U.S. Attorney General. If this happens, he could end up being more of a problem for legal marijuana in the United States than Sessions ever was.
It was just days after Trump demanded that Sessions’ resignation that sources close to the situation pegged Christie for the next attorney general. The news seemed legit. Christie is a longtime friend of Donald Trump and even endorsed him during his presidential bid. What’s more is Christie has the experience, serving as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey for several years before becoming governor.
There was even speculation early on that Trump wanted Christie to fill the spot of attorney general before the name Jeff Sessions was ever uttered. Christie expressed some interest in the position, telling the media more than once that he would probably resign as governor if offered the job.
It is no secret that Christie is no friend of legal marijuana. As governor, he often said that marijuana would not be legalized in New Jersey on his watch. He even went as far as to tell conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in 2015 that, if pegged for attorney general under President Trump, he would enforce federal marijuana laws.
“I will crack down and not permit it,” he said. “Marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”
Fortunately, Christie’s opinion on the marijuana issue seems to have progressed to some degree. When asked about it recently, he said“states have the right to do what they want to do.”
But to hear Christie tell it, he and President Trump has not even met to discuss the possibility of him taking over as the country’s leading law enforcement hammer. “He hasn’t asked and we haven’t even spoken about it,” Christie said, according to the Hill.
Christie told reporters that he did, in fact, visit the White House recently for a meeting regarding criminal justice reform. But he said that it was something that was scheduled long before Sessions resigned.
“I was in the White House Thursday for a previously scheduled meeting on prison reform and sentencing reform which we did a lot of in New Jersey, it’s been really successful,” he said. “And so the White House has asked me to help with what they’re trying to do on the national level. And that’s what I was doing there. I didn’t even see the president or speak to him.”
While Jeff Sessions was attorney general, the cannabis community operated in fear that a federal crackdown was on the horizon. But nothing of the kind ever happened. The worst thing Sessions did against marijuana, other than taking some vocal pot shots against its medical benefits and blaming it for the opioid epidemic, is prevent the expansion of medical marijuana research opportunities.
President Trump has said since the beginning that the issue of marijuana legalization should be left up to the individual states. It is conceivable that the next attorney general will be forced to adhere to this philosophy. Whether Trump is actually considering Christie for the position remains to be seen.