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Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The elections held this past Tuesday may not have directly addressed the status of marijuana, but voters in multiple states did elect officials who are adamant about making legal marijuana more available.

Next Year in New Jersey

One of those states is New Jersey, who’s outgoing governor is Chris Christie, chairman of the White House commission on opioids.

Last week Democrat Phil Murphy, who made legal marijuana one of the cornerstones of his campaign, won the state over. This creates a radical change for the state. For years Chris Christie has blocked attempts to legalize cannabis, and even maintains his opposition to it while fighting to help the country get a grip on the opioid epidemic.

Phil Murphy has been pretty open about his support for marijuana legalization. According to Forbes, Murphy even talked about it during his primary night victory speech saying,

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,”

“And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Apparently, it isn’t just Murphy in the state that is looking forward to pushing this legislation along. The Democratically-controlled state Senate is expecting to bring up legal marijuana as early as next year. In regards to the topic, earlier this year Senate President Stephen Sweeney said,

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

Voters in Virginia

Voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia also elected an official who advocates for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. While it may not be as liberal a stance as Murphy, it is still a big step in a lot of people’s minds. Northam writes,

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.”

But it isn’t just about the individuals. Northam also points out the resources going to this issue. He has written to the Virginia State Crime Commission as part of its review of the effects of marijuana decriminalization.

“Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement—enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,”

Again, not that he is pushing for complete legalization, but to stop stiff penalties for those with small amounts of marijuana. Northam also advocates for research into the medicinal uses of marijuana. According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has stated,

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” he said in an interview Monday. “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes.”

He isn’t alone in Virginia either. Even the Republican state Senate leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. questioned whether or not small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime.

Marijuana in More Areas

But it isn’t just these two offices that indicate there may be more change coming for marijuana policy. In other areas around the country, there are other notable shifts that may dramatically impact marijuana policy.

  • Athens, Ohio

77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.

  • Wayne County, Michigan

In an area that includes Detroit, voters now allow cannabis businesses to operate in more areas and to stay open longer. Michigan is expected to have a marijuana legalization bill on the 2018 ballot.

  • Philadelphia

Lawrence Krasner won the election for District Attorney. Krasner has been outspoken about the benefits of marijuana reform. According to Krasner,

“One of the things we see in other jurisdictions is that, where marijuana is readily available, there’s a 25% reduction in opiate/opioid overdose deaths.”

“So if Philadelphia is looking at 500 opiate/opioid overdose deaths a year, a district attorney, by choosing not to enforce against marijuana usage, can potentially save 125 lives. That’s what a district attorney should exercise his or her discretion to do.”

It seems between lightening the punishments for possession, expanding programs for legal marijuana, and electing officials that will advocate for its use, marijuana may have already seen some real change this November.

What to Remember about Legal Marijuana

It is important to note for anyone who has a history of substance use disorder that the legal status of a substance does not make it safer. You could argue that marijuana is much safer than opioids like prescription drugs or heroin. While marijuana is not as lethal concerning overdose deaths, it still should not ignore the risks.

Marijuana reform has the potential for some positive and negative outcomes. Ultimately voters will have to consider weighing the pros and cons of reform. Either way, it is important to remember that any substance, legal or not, can be addictive. While marijuana may become more accepted on a legal level, it is still unhealthy to abuse this drug. If you find yourself abusing this or any drug it is very important that you seek safe and effective treatment resources.

Because drug abuse is always destructive, marijuana abuse is no exception. If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, losing control of your use can lead to something much worse. We want to help. You are not alone. Call toll-free now. 

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New Ad Blames Opiate Epidemic on President Obama

New Ad Blames Opiate Epidemic on President Obama

Author: Justin Mckibben

Let me begin with throwing a bit of personal opinion out there and say this story is just too ridiculous in all honesty. It isn’t even funny how off-base and basically offensive this campaign ad that I am about to discuss is, and for multiple reasons. I try my best to stay away from politics during election time, especially with expressing opinions publicly, but this has gone too far.

Now there is NO DOUBT that we are currently in the grips of devastation and disaster when it comes to the opiate epidemic in America. With any major issue like this there is ALWAYS going to be a wave of political finger-pointing, especially now with the coming presidential election, but this recent ad has taken it to an extreme like no other in an erroneous and inconsistent attempt to pin the suffering on the president.

Presidential candidate Chris Christie from New Jersey has taken a cheap-shot from way out of nowhere and tried to put all the blame for the current opiate epidemic in America squarely on the shoulders of President Barack Obama in his newest video commercial, and what an ironically incorrect claim that is.

Lawless America

The heroin epidemic has already amounted to plenty of the good old blame game, with a lot of the blame justifiably aimed at:

  • Big Pharma
  • Dirty doctors
  • Mexican heroin manufacturing

In an attempt to politicize the issue for one’s own benefit, Chris Christie has released a brand new campaign ad in which through his own narration he brings the attention to the “lawlessness in America,” including “drugs running rampant and destroying lives.”

In the ad we see a heroin addict with a hood over his head in a sketchy looking stairwell shooting up, then the camera cuts to an image of an addict falling out on a couch in what appears to be a representation of an overdose, with needles and other paraphernalia scattered on a coffee table.

This quick jab into the hearts of hundreds of thousands of American citizens and families across the country is slipped in there with ISIS beheadings, the Hillary Clinton information scandal and other scary subjects.

The sky-scraping overdose death rates and the opiate epidemic is a tender topic with so many hundreds of families who lose loved ones every single day to drug overdose, and far too many people are in the grips of active addiction with pain that is paramount to any politics. It feels like this was a cheap shot implied to take advantage of the American peoples sensitivity to the opiate epidemic.

The Ironic Reality

With such strong implications and such graphic images to push the point, this advertisement conveniently neglects to acknowledge the reality. It is lacking the facts about the opiate epidemic, and simply shielding itself with slander.

What Chris Christie didn’t mention is the opiate epidemic was actually gaining a great deal of momentum well before 2008, when George W. Bush was still president. Like how about how Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal charges for falsely marketing OxyContin back in 2007. This was one of the many products that were allowed to instigate the opiate epidemic, and it was already heavy on the streets before Obama came close to office.

As if that wasn’t enough to counter these claims, it should be noted that the pill mills in America that supplied a lot of illegitimate people with drugs were finally only shut down in 2011 when Obama actually was in office.

Guess which pot is calling which kettle black here…

Just in case no one noticed, this guy who is claiming America’s drug problem is this bad because of Obama should take some personal responsibility for his massive contribution. New Jersey, which is Chris Christies home state, currently has 3 times the overdose rates compared to the overall U.S. rate! Out of the national average of state overdose rates, New Jersey is 3 times worse!

And his ad is claiming we need a ‘Strong Law Enforcer’ for president?!

Yes… because imposing the strictest translations of our outdated drug laws as echoes of our failed war on drugs to further harm Americans who are in desperate need is the best kind of president for us right now….

Or nah… I think I’m gonna go with nah, Chris.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just expressing a personal opinion and even then the guy is not all bad. To his credit he has enacted Good Samaritan laws, and he also advocates for wide naloxone distribution. That being said, drug addiction treatment in New Jersey has been grossly inadequate for meeting the needs of countless addicts seeking help.

And yes, Obama has been in office while a lot has progressed in this opiate epidemic, but there are also great strides in drug policy reform and he has recognized how broken the war on drugs that came before him has been multiple times. No, it hasn’t happened over night, but progress is progress.

So maybe less focus should go on Obama, and more on the fact the opiate epidemic is going to require a revolution that begins with all of us. We all have a part to play is restoring the country and helping our friends and loved ones get healthy. If you or someone you love is struggling please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135


Chris Christie’s Very Confusing Views on Drug Policy

Chris Christie’s Very Confusing Views on Drug Policy


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke during at the 5th annual Faith & Freedom Coalition‘s “Road to Majority” Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 20th, during which he described his views regarding the drug problem in America.

Christie admitted that the prevailing, and largely Republican-driven ‘war on drugs’ “hasn’t worked.”

In as extension of his “pro-life” agenda, Christie described his support of treatment instead of jail time for so-called non-violent drug offenders.

Christie said that being pro-life just doesn’t pertain to his stance on the abortion issue, rather, it means fighting for a person’s right to life at all stages, without regard to how problematic that person’s life gets or the turmoil they may find themselves in, as a result of the disease of addiction.

“We have tried for 40-plus years for a war on drugs that is wide and broad and it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t worked, Christie emphasized. He added, “What works is giving those people, nonviolent drug offenders, addicts, the ability to be able to get the tools they need to be able to deal with this disease. I doubt that there is a person in this room who hasn’t had the problem of drug and alcohol addiction touch their family or neighbors.”

And, in fact, throughout his term and especially over the past few years, the governor has expanded drug courts and required treatment for many who are addicted and arrested.

Chris Christie’s Very Confusing Views on Drug Policy

Where things get a little confusing is this: Christie takes a hard line when it comes to drugs and crime, which reflects the more conservative approach of law-and-order: case in point, Christie wants to tackle the crime-ridden city of Camden by disbanding and rebuilding a tougher police force.

However, when it comes to heroin abuse and prescription painkiller abuse and those who have been deemed “nonviolent offenders,” Christie advocates for treatment rather than jail time – and yet – he espouses the more conservative crackdown approach when it comes to marijuana, specifically.

Basically, it sounds like Christie’s approach to creating a drug policy is all about pick-and-choose, on a case-by-case basis, depending on the substance involved and the type of crime associated with the drug use in that particular case. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation and is less a blanket drug policy that can be applied across the board and more a set of arbitrary rules.

It sounds like Christie is starting to “get it” when it comes to drug addiction yet he still wants to distinguish between which substances are problematic and in what ways. The thing about addiction is, it doesn’t matter whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, heroin or painkillers, crack or cocaine, meth or legal amphetamines, a drug is a drug (is a drug, is a drug).

Now, personally, I am impressed that the governor recognizes that addiction is indeed a disease. This is a start. Perhaps I am a bit jaded when it comes to politicians and the prevailing attitude regarding drug use and abuse in this country. It gives me hope to hear politicians – even Republican ones, such as Gov. Chris Christie – speaking into the issue of the disease of addiction, its ravages on the individual, families, and communities as well as the advocating of treatment rather than incarceration for those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, and is even facing charges and potential jail time as a result, contact an Addition Specialist at Palm Partners today. We have staff available 24/7 with whom you can speak regarding options for treatment. Facing negative consequences, such as incarceration, as a result of substance abuse is a clear indication of a possible problem, such as addiction. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135.

Opinion: Is the War on Drugs Over?

Opinion: Is the War on Drugs Over?

Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and even Obama have been all over the media and news on their opinions with the war on drugs and telling us what their position is on it. So does this mean the war on drugs is over? World leaders are increasingly taking the debate over ending the war on drugs seriously.

Is the War on Drugs Over?: Rick Perry

“I am not for legalization of drugs,” Perry said. “We certainly would never jump out in front of a parade because that’s where the public seems to be going.” Rick Perry didn’t call for decriminalization; which would be a less severe step that substitutes criminal consequences for drug possession with the rough comparison of a parking ticket. Perry did focus on his state’s continuous use of drug court. Drug court is an alternative to sending people to jail or prison and offers them some sort of treatment.

Is the War on Drugs Over?: Chris Christie

Chris Christie spoke out on his objective to end the failed war on drugs. He stated: “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands this simple truth:  every life has value and no life is disposable.”

Is the War on Drugs Over?: Bobby Jindal

Governor Bobby Jindal said that he would be open to the idea of legalizing medical marijuana in Louisiana under the conditions that the patients are being closely observed by a doctor and the distribution of the marijuana is securely controlled. “He would be open to making medical marijuana available under strict circumstances,” Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said, after the governor first mentioned being open to the move at a Wednesday press conference. Medical marijuana while being supervised by a doctor would be the only exception, and Jindal is against the legalization of marijuana in any other forms.

Is the War on Drugs Over? Obama                   

“We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing,” the president said. Obama continued on to say, “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.” Obama’s administration announced that it wouldn’t halt the legalization in U.S. States for recreational use of marijuana; recreational pot has already been legalized in Colorado and Washington.

With all of these different opinions from political figures, the question remains: is the war on drugs finally over? In my opinion, it is definitely at a point where we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think just the talk of changing laws for people who are caught with drugs in their possession or any kind of drug charge and not going to jail sounds so much better. To help addicts and alcoholics get better you have to let them go through treatment or give them a chance to recover. With the jails and prisons being overpopulated and the epidemics on overdosing, let’s hope the changes within the laws and the actions on the war on drugs takes place soon! If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


In the News: Chris Christie Vows to End Failed War on Drugs

In the News: Chris Christie Vows to End Failed War on Drugs

New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, spoke out on his goal to end the failed war on drugs. He stated: “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands this simple truth:  every life has value and no life is disposable.”

Clearly, Christie is facing a serious, career-threatening outrage right now. It’s totally probable that this is an effort at diversion. Some other warnings in reference to Chris Christie include: He supports mandatory treatment for recreational drug users (even first-time offenders). That doesn’t exactly sound like freedom. Even though Christie commendably wants to end the sequence of imprisonment, the overpowering majority of recreational drug users aren’t addicts, and don’t require treatment. Technically, New Jersey legalized medical marijuana almost four years ago but Christie has done everything in his power to stop it from actually happening. Lastly, in 2012, Christie prevented a “good Samaritan” bill that would have protected from criminal prosecution for someone who calls 911 to report a drug overdose.

With all of this being said, a Republican governor, a chief candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and a previous federal prosecutor just voiced the expression “We will end the failed war on drugs” in an inaugural speech. All of this while still in office, which seems pretty noteworthy. He also phrased “we will make drug treatment available” for non-violent offenders suggests that he has lifted from his prior policy of making treatment required. It’s not surprising to hear a politician get on the drug modification bandwagon now-a-days. However, when someone who has fought against reform as hard as Chris Christie comes out in support of change, everyone can’t help but be curious, what transformed his decision?

In my opinion, I think it’s great Christie has spoken out about wanting to put less people in jail and get people help. After his prevention of the “good Samaritan” bill (which I thought seemed like a great idea,) it can be confusing to see him supporting the idea of making treatment available as opposed to locking people up for drug related crimes. Drug policy reform supporters commended Christie for addressing the matter in his inaugural speech. Christies proposed reform also seems to have strong public support. A poll (done by the huffington post) shown in August established that most voters oppose mandatory minimum sentencing, while 38 percent believe present sentences for non-violent drug offenses are too severe.

“You can certainly make the argument that no one should try drugs in the first place, I certainly am in that camp,” Christie said in that speech. “But tens of millions of people in our society do every year, and for some people they can try it and walk away from it, but for others the first time they try it they become an addict, and they’re sick and they need treatment.” It is nice to see a governor supporting treatment for addicts and referring to them as sick instead of just bad people or crazy. Hopefully Governor Chris Christie is for real and not just trying to get support for a cause he doesn’t believe in. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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