Folks can move in and out of favor with Donald Trump rather quickly. Jeff Sessions was rewarded for being Trump’s first U.S. Senate endorser with an Attorney General appointment, but he was relegated to the doghouse for recusing himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia interfering with the 2016 election. Sessions was then ousted a day after the 2018 midterm election.
Chris Christie, who was once a political opponent of Trump’s for the Republican presidential nomination, has swerved in and out of Trump’s orbit as well, complicated by the fact that Christie successfully prosecuted Jared Kushner’s father. It’s got to be hard staying in the good graces of Donald Trump when you sent his son-in-law’s father to federal prison. However, politics makes strange bedfellows, and there are now reports that Chris Christie could be tabbed to be the next Attorney General. As CBS News reports, Christie is in the running, but it isn’t a done deal yet:
No decisions are expected soon, and the list of those being considered — which also includes Rudy Giuliani, outgoing, and former Attorney General William Barr, who served under President George H. W. Bush — is likely to grow in the coming days, CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports.
Christie is a longtime friend of President Trump’s and endorsed him after dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Christie then ran the transition process before Mr. Trump took office, a task that was marginalized by other Trump aides and that ultimately bore only marginal influence on personnel and policy in the new administration. Since then, though, he has begun to rebuild his relationship with Mr. Trump and senior White House officials.
What would Attorney General Chris Christie mean for the cannabis community?
It’s hard to know for sure, of course, but I predict that enforcing federal marijuana law against businesses and individuals complying with state law would remain an extremely low priority under a Chris Christie-led Justice Department. Christie famously has made some idiotic, Reefer Madness-inspired statements in the past, including the gem that, cannabis users are diseased and need a visit from federal law enforcement agents, even if using in a legal state like Colorado. The former New Jersey Governor seems to have had a change of heart on the states’ rights aspect of cannabis legalization, however, as Marijuana Moment reported on Christie’s flip-flop on the issue a few weeks ago:
Christie stood out among other Republican and Democratic contenders during his 2016 presidential run by maintaining that in addition to personally opposing legalization, he’d crack down on legal cannabis states and enforce federal laws nationwide if elected.
“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said in 2015. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”
So it came as something of a surprise when the former governor went on to say in the Politicon appearance that “states have the right to do what they want to do on this,” signaling a modest shift in his anti-marijuana rhetoric. States should have that right even though, as Christie put it, “broad legalization of marijuana won’t, in my view, alleviate or even minimize the opioid crisis.”
The next U.S. Attorney General, whether it is Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani, or someone else is likely to be too busy to worry about people and businesses complying with their own state’s cannabis laws. In addition to the Justice Department’s limited resources and numerous priorities, the political reality of cannabis legalization following the 2018 midterm elections makes it extremely unlikely that Donald Trump, the AG’s boss, will want to anger the voters in legal states such as Colorado and Michigan and Maine or swing medical states like Florida and Ohio.
While at first glance, it can be disconcerting to see a president nominate out-of-touch prohibitionists to be our nation’s top law enforcement officer, the truth of the matter is that the cannabis legalization movement is too powerful for Jeff Sessions or Chris Christie. I speculated that Jeff Sessions would only make the legalization movement stronger, and we are now stronger than ever with 2/3 of Americans supporting our fight for freedom.
We’re even too powerful for the president of the United States, especially one that wants to get reelected. The cannabis community needs to continue to lobby our legislators at the federal level while changing the law for the better at the state level. We keep doing that and the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition will crumble soon. Chris Christie certainly isn’t going to stand in our way.
Learn the latest about cannabis politics, business, and culture at the next International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, California, on February 7-8. Don’t miss your opportunity to network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates from the Golden State and around the world, while saving money, by purchasing your early-bird tickets by January 18th. After San Francisco, the ICBC will be traveling to Barcelona, Spain, on March 14th for a special event with Spannabis, before returning to Berlin, Germany, on March 31st-April 2nd. Stay tuned for some more exciting destinations soon!