Drug Policy Reform Gets Standing Ovation in New Jersey Statehouse

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Something amazing happened in New Jersey yesterday. It's not the kind of news that's likely to make national headlines, but I think it says a lot about where our nation is heading when it comes to our attitudes about drug use and the criminal justice system.

The highlight came after Christie called for a revolution in New Jersey’s approach to the drug war that would divert non-violent addicts from prison and put them in treatment programs instead. And he did it with characteristic Christie style, in big bold strokes.

"I am not satisfied to have this merely as a pilot project," the governor said. "I am calling for a transformation of the way we deal with drug abuse and incarceration in every corner of New Jersey." [NJ.com]

Those are strong words, especially from a man who many believe represents the future of the republican party. But more impressive than Gov. Christie's words was the way they were received:

[Former Gov.] Jim McGreevey, sitting perhaps 10 feet from Christie, jumped out of his seat to try to start a standing ovation.

And it worked. Within five or six seconds, the entire Assembly chamber, Democrats and Republicans, followed the lead of the humbled former governor, giving sustained applause from their feet.

"Addiction touches so many lives, and destroys one family at a time," McGreevey says. "The governor stated the obvious."

And yet much of what Gov. Christie has to say about drug policy is far from obvious to the leadership of his own party. In a noisy and high-profile republican presidential primary season, only Ron Paul has lent his voice to the message of a more measured and sensible approach to drug policy.

Meanwhile, the runaway front-runner, Mitt Romney, has achieved what many are calling an early lock on the nomination, and he did so without sharing any actual ideas about drug policy at all. The powerful right-wing political infrastructure that now rallies around Romney is oblivious to this conspicuous intransigence, even as he sets his sights on a showdown with Obama, where the youth vote is going to matter and concerns about issues ranging from marijuana reform to over-incarceration are increasingly resonant.

That's why it's just so weird to see a roomful of politicians clapping for drug policy reform, while so few have done anything to market that message to their supporters. If they don't yet understand that we're clapping too, we need to start clapping that much louder.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Well, it's a step.  I don't

Well, it's a step.  I don't think any marijuana user should be FORCED to even go to rehabilitation centers if they don't want to, nor should they be arrested or fined.  Putting marijuan users in rehabilitation centers is  Newt Gingrich idea, and Newt Gingrich only has enough intelligence to breathe.  He doesn't need to be allowed to make important decisions, and he should NOT be allowed to have the pointed scissors.

newt

Newt wants the death penalty for people who sell cannabis.......he's not going to give users the choice of rehabilitation or jail.....you can bet it will be the Cage. 

I agree, although turning

I agree, although turning drug policy into a health issue will make it a lot easier to change policies.  So yes, it is a step.  Although I disagree with your opinions on Newt and scissors.  He should be given the pointiest pair and encouraged to run with them.

Although to be honest, I actually really liked his moon base idea.  We really do need a base on the moon, so humanity can survive if something really bad happens on Earth.  Stephen Hawking thinks this is a good idea too!

Making money on Drug Courts Christie ?

Why don't you stop feeding your friends pockets with Drug Court Programs and go after the drug dealers. . The States are making money on putting our children in programs that are total bullshit. Opera donated 500,000 dollars to Integrity House in Newark so they could yell and scream at people with drug problems instead of giving them proper treatment.. I am totally sick of people wasting our tax dollars to feed worthless programs while they let the drug dealers go. You all act like your helping control drugs when in reality your making money on programs that destroy peoples lives. So please do not think for a second that we do not see through all the bullshit. Obama is no better and should be thrown into one of these programs himself and see what its like. I am sure if it was his children he would not have them in a drug court program but in a real treatment center. Its totally sick and anyone who funds these programs should not be in office.  

Making money on Drug Courts Christie ?

Why don't you stop feeding your friends pockets with Drug Court Programs and go after the drug dealers. . The States are making money on putting our children in programs that are total bullshit. Opera donated 500,000 dollars to Integrity House in Newark so they could yell and scream at people with drug problems instead of giving them proper treatment.. I am totally sick of people wasting our tax dollars to feed worthless programs while they let the drug dealers go. Whose side are you on?? This is not America anymore. 

Making money on Drug Courts Christie??

The only people your helping is your friends who run and own all the Drug Court Programs. Instead of going after the drug dealers and doctors you rather support useless programs that destroy peoples lives and make your friends money. So do not think for one second that I do not see through all your bs.

Apology

I am  sorry for the comments I made Governor Christie and didn't even realize I published them on this page.But I do think that the majority of probation officers are using the drug courts to take away civil rights of people who are non-violent offenders..  I know several people in drug court who have not been treated by doctors or medical professionals and instead have been admitted to military type facilities run by the state that treat people like criminals instead of people with serious drug problems. They are taken away from their loved ones and are not given any other choice of where they are treated regardless if they have health insurance or not. I myself have a loved one in drug court who is being treated as a criminal instead of a person with a drug problem. I asked the courts to let us put her into a treatment facility recommended by her doctor and was told that she must attend the facility dictated by the court even though she has very good health insurance and can be treated in a much better facility and paid for by her own insurance instead of the tax payer.  I did not think this was too much to ask. Instead she was told that if she did not go to the facility dictated by the drug court she would be thrown in jail. She is in a state facility now and its like a boot camp for the army. How does this help with her drug problem?  She receives nothing but threats that if she does not do exactly as she is told she will go to jail.So please keep this in mind when giving state workers the authority to do whatever they want with people who have drug problems. Again I am sorry for the comments made but I  do not understand the purpose of these facilities when it is a medical condition and does not require an army sergeant telling you where to live, what to eat, when to get up and when you can see or talk to your loved ones. They have also told us ( her family) that she can not live with us anymore or see us.   Please accept this as a sincere apology. Your a good governor and I agree with most of things you do but again please keep in mind authority by probation  officers can be abused and dangerous when part of the agreement in drug court is that you have no civil rights at all. And if we can both save the tax payers in New Jersey some money by doing what we can to help ourselves it cant be all that bad right. 

Gov. Christie's error

While the Governor's comments are in the right direction he still misses the boat; as we all know marijuana users are not addicted, even "habitual" users.  To the user jail and rehab vs. jail is a matter of degree.

"Broad strokes" you say; what about telling his AG to stop prosecuting people for using or simple intoxication?

I have a magic unicorn that farts rainbows too if interested !

I'm a present drug court participant who is currently on the last phase of the program . It's a program that tells the public one thing and does another which leads its participants to believe in false hope . It's a rotten program and they say its 3 to 5 years but you can qualify for early termination if you follow their rules . I've been on the program for over 3 years now with no relapse , no trouble , no police involvement , completed a treatment program , have a home group and a sponsor , have a full time job , and have 3 1/2 years in . 2 years alone on phase 4 which they say after 18 months on that phase I would qualify for early termination . I have done EVERYTHING they have asked plus more ,but still they keep not only me but about 9 others on past the 18 month eligibility for early termination once on phase 4 .but they will constantly let people off who have not maintained a good record while on drug court , in 3 1/2 years we have had at least 20 or more people graduate . And out of 20 people , 13 have either relapsed or got re arrested, I got clean and sober long before I was placed on drug court and continue to maintain a sober way of living ..I see how we are use as cash cows and how they let the ones go who they feel will be back . I see it every day . I hold no ill reguards for the program .because after all ,DRUG COURT WORKS , AND I HAVE A BUMPER STICKER TO PROVE IT !!!!!!

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