Famously anti-marijuana former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) isn’t jumping on the pro-legalization train any time soon—but new comments suggest he might be softening his opposition a smidge, recognizing marijuana reform as a states’ rights issue.
Speaking at Politicon on Saturday, Christie took a question about his cannabis stance from YouTuber Kyle Kulinski, who asked him to weigh in on studies showing that states with legal marijuana programs experience lower rates of opioid addiction and overdoses compared to non-legal states. He was quick to dismiss the research, contending that other studies show the “exact opposite.”
“I just don’t believe when we’re in the midst of a drug addiction crisis that we need to legalize another drug,” Christie said, echoing comments he’s made as chair of President Donald Trump’s opioids committee.
Kulinski seized on that point and asked the former governor if he’d vote to ban alcohol.
“No, I wouldn’t ban it. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, and that’s a big, important argument about marijuana because once you legalize this, that toothpaste never goes back in the tube.”
“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.”
It’s unclear what’s behind the apparent shift from hardline prohibitionist to wary federalist, but who knows… maybe Christie experienced an epiphany at a Melissa Etheridge concert he attended earlier this month.
Etheridge, who recently spoke with Marijuana Moment about her cannabis advocacy and use of the drug for medicinal purposes, reacted to a tweet showing Christie at one of her recent performances, where he reportedly knew every word of her songs and sang along.
It’s been a little over a year since singer, activist and marijuana entrepreneur Melissa Etheridge was arrested for cannabis possession by federal agents in North Dakota near the U.S.-Canada border. Her tour bus was stopped and searched shortly after touring in Alberta, and agents discovered a vape pen containing cannabis oil.
Etheridge, who’s become an outspoken advocate for legalization in the years since she started using the plant medicinally after being diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s, told Marijuana Moment in a new interview that the experience of being busted did not deter her.
Rather, it has motivated her to continue advocating for patients and spreading the word about marijuana’s therapeutic potential.
Later this month, the singer plans to continue that mission, giving a keynote talk on how art and culture can help bring cannabis into the mainstream at the California Cannabis Business Conference in Anaheim. In the interview below, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, she speaks about what the audience can expect and the role of celebrities in the legalization movement.
Via Tina Lawson.
Marijuana Moment: Let’s start by talking about your upcoming speech. How exactly can art and culture “mainstream” cannabis?
Melissa Etheridge: I know that I have lived my life in art. I have made my life art, and my art is my life. I write music and I have experience—when I went through my breast cancer experience, and I used cannabis as medicine for the first time, it was inspiring. It made sense to me on so many levels. Artists, we spend a lot of time in our right brain. We get inspiration—which means “in spirt”—from nothing and make something of it. So it’s easy for us to understand plant medicine. Why shouldn’t we be the ones to help bridge that gap?
MM: Inversely, I wonder how using marijuana has influenced your artistic career?
ME: Oh my goodness, well if you hear everything from after my cancer on, you can hear it. The difference in the work, the depth of my soul-searching, the depth of my spiritual journey. It changed my understanding of parenting. To be more balanced in one’s consciousness, to understand that we have a problem-solving consciousness—the left side, and that gets everything done—yet we need a balance of the oneness, the all there is that’s in the right side.
MM: Where do you see the role of celebrities when it comes to advancing marijuana reform?
ME: Celebrities have a funny role in our world, you know? We keep saying, we’re just people, people. And sometimes we’re just people who have done one thing really well for a long time and that’s what you become a “genius” at—that’s all that that is. So all of a sudden, people are interested in that, so you get this currency, this energy, that is celebrity. Then it’s up to each of us.
I went through this with the LGBT community. I proudly came out and said ‘yes!’ and I’ve heard from, and know that I’ve inspired, many, and that makes me just so happy in my life. Yet I’ve made some mistakes, you know? And we’re all just walking through this. Celebrities, if they choose to, can do a lot. My hope is that I can help others look at cannabis as medicine, as an alternative, when the choice that they’re given is a painkiller, an opioid, to say, “Hey, let’s try to put the stigma away and really get into this plant medicine that won’t harm us as much.” I hope my celebrity can help there.
MM: Do you think there’s a greater need for celebrities who are profiting from the marijuana industry to contribute to the movement in terms of grassroots organizing or contributing to national advocacy groups, for example?
ME: I think that’s a natural byproduct of the movement. I think that the majority of people in the cannabis industry understand it is as a social game-changer on so many levels—on justice reform, on racial inequality, it goes deep. This is a movement.
MM: You also run a marijuana business based in California. What has your experience been like since Proposition 64 went into effect?
ME: We all agree that legalization is a good thing. Prop. 64 is full of almost impossible criteria to me, and it’s causing undue financial burdens. No other industry has ever had to meet these regulation requirements—not even the food industry and certainly not the pharmaceutical industry.
MM: The anniversary of your arrest near the border recently passed. I wonder what you make of the progress we’re seeing in Canada, which is set to launch its legal cannabis system next week, compared to the United States.
ME: Oh, Canada. Again, there are parallels with the LGBT movement. I remember Canada went completely federal—we’re doing gay marriage, bam, same-sex marriage, equality. I don’t know what it is, unless it’s just that anybody who would come to Canada to live—because it’s so darn cold—that they really believe in rights for all, this great thing. I think they also jumped on cannabis pretty early and have seen what it can do for communities, what it can do medicinally, what it can do for businesses and that’s what’s going to just kill us. We are missing out on the opportunity to be the international leaders on cannabis. And it’s these beautiful people up in Canada who are doing it so well. It’s like when the Japanese started making better cars than us.
MM: As a longtime activist, what message would you send to our elected official in Congress, where cannabis reform has stalled for decades?
ME: I’d say, I understand the fear. It has been many decades of misinformation telling us that cannabis is evil. I get it. I’ve heard that also. These are different times and it’s possible to think differently about this medicine. This is an answer for you. Really give it a chance.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Consuming cannabis with kids on a recreational level is a sensitive subject. But as the country slowly adopts new cannabis laws and people become more receptive to the medicinal benefits of the plant, the activity may not be as controversial as most individuals make it out to be.
This is the message that Melissa Etheridge, accomplished musician, leading cannabis advocate and owner of Etheridge Farms wants to convey.
During the session, the 55-year-old admitted to consuming cannabis with her adult kids: 20-year-old daughter, Bailey Jean, and 18-year-old son, Beckett. The family bonding activity came very naturally, as Etheridge has been an avid cannabis enthusiast since her 20s.
She doesn’t consume cannabis when her two younger kids are around, but they have caught her in the act a couple times.
“It was funny at first, and then they realized, it’s a very natural, end-of-the-day [thing] … And it brings you much closer. I’d much rather have a smoke with my grown kids than a drink — oh, God, no,” said Etheridge.
The cannabis advocate also lights up with her wife, Linda Wallem. Etheridge recommends a juicy indica strain, mostly known inducing relaxation, to ease into dates on Friday nights. She enjoys the recreational aspects of cannabis, as the musician claims it helps restore balance in her life.
Melissa Ethridge and her wife, Linda Wallem
Etheridge has made several public appearances at the High Times Cannabis Cup and on cannabis-themed television shows, including Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens, where she dabbed and freestyled with Bronson.
Cannabis became a monumental part of the Grammy-award winner’s life over two decades ago. In 2004, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Doctors offered her a broad range of prescription medicine to ease the crippling effects of chemotherapy. Instead of blindly accepting the pills, Etheridge looked for less invasive alternatives.
David Crosby, iconic musician and founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (also the donor father of her two oldest kids), urged her to look into medicinal cannabis.
During treatment, it helped the singer-songwriter communicate with her children, restore appetite and boost morale. The mother of four is currently cancer-free. The debilitating ordeal changed her views surrounding the potential of cannabis as a medicine.
“When I used it as medicine, it became so clear to me that it has been maligned and misunderstood, and I really wanted to help people who are suffering,” explained Etheridge. “I mean, going through chemotherapy is suffering… and cannabis helps so many parts of just that.”
Today, she is still deeply affiliated with the life-saving plant through the Etheridge Farms brand. In 2016, the musician debuted her second line of cannabis products, which includes lotions, oil cartridges, edibles and flowers, in medical dispensaries around the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Etheridge Farms balm is widely popular and known for helping patients cope with arthritis, inflammation and sore muscles.
“I want it to be more than just a name,” said the musician. “These are sun-grown California products. I want to really focus my products on wellness and on the medicinal part.”