TIME Chris Christie

The Political Upside of Chris Christie’s Threats Against Colorado Pot Users

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.
Darren McCollester—2015 Getty Images New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.

The upside and downside of going after weed

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie threatened users of marijuana who have been buying the drug legally under state law on Tuesday. “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

The blunt language ran against the tide of national public opinion, distinguished him from most of his colleagues in the Republican field, and could present problems in key states like Colorado and New Hampshire, where majorities support marijuana legalization. But pollsters say the straight talk might also offer him political upside, by appealing to conservative voters and separating him from his rivals.

An April Pew poll found that 53% of the country now supports marijuana legalization, including 39% of Republicans. On the question of whether the federal government should override state law to bust pot users, 59% of Americans, including 54% of self-identified Republicans, oppose the federal enforcement in states like Colorado.

In Colorado, a crucial 2016 swing state, the numbers are slightly more favorable for legal pot. According to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll, 62% of Colorado voters support recreational marijuana legalization. A poll done for the Denver Post shows how the supporters break down by political party: 66% of Democrats and 62% of Independents said they would vote to legalize marijuana in the state if the ballot came up again, while only 26% of Republicans said they would.

Christie’s tough stance could cut both ways in the primary and general campaign. “You can safely say in Colorado the decision to legalize marijuana is popular,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “And when you walk in with a broad stroke saying I’m going to take this away, it could negatively affect Chris Christie.”

But Malloy said there’s a potential benefit to Christie’s strong stance, as well. Of the 16 Republican candidates, few others openly share Christie’s support of federal enforcement, though Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Caolina Sen. Lindsay Graham have tiptoed around it. Most candidates, from Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, instead say they would leave the question of routine marijuana enforcement up to the states. Their views are summed-up by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who said, “I think Colorado voters made a choice. I don’t support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice.”

So Malloy thinks that even if many voters disagree with Christie, his resolute stance on the issue makes him stand out from the rest of the field. “It’s certainly a bold, against the tide claim for Chris Christie,” Malloy said. “When you’re one of 16 and your star is not rising as it was a few years ago, what appears as a principled move could work in your favor.”

Christie has always been opposed to marijuana legalization, both politically and personally: “Never have. It wasn’t my thing,” he said of using the drug on a recent campaign swing.

Andrew Smith, director of the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, agreed with Malloy. “What all these guys need to do is separate themselves from the field,” he said. “Part of the way you do that is to distinguish yourself from the other candidates.”

Plus, according to Smith, there’s less of a political downside to being anti-pot in New Hampshire than there is in Colorado. “It’s not a major issue here,” he said, although a recent UNH poll showed 60% of New Hampshire voters support legalization, and 72% support decriminalization. “The libertarian voters, the voters in the Republican Party who are most likely to be proponents of marijuana legalization, first off they’re going to be less likely to vote… and if they are Republicans, they’re probably going to be more the libertarian Rand Paul supporters… There are enough older more conservative republicans, culturally conservative, that would support [Christie] on that.”

TIME sweden

Snoop Dogg Briefly Held in Sweden on Suspicion of Drug Possession

Snoop Dogg arrested by Swedish police
Marcus Ericsson—EPA US rapper Snoop Dogg performing in Uppsala, Sweden, on July 25, 2015.

No word yet on whether he had drugs or not

Rapper Snoop Dogg, fresh off a performance in Sweden, was stopped by police in Uppsala on suspicion of possessing drugs.

Snoop, who is on tour for his recently released album, “Bush,” was pulled over by police late on Saturday night.

“Police carrying out roadside controls noticed that Snoop Dogg [whose car was pulled over] seemed to be under the influence of narcotics. He was arrested and taken to the police station to take a urine test,” Daniel Nilsson, a spokesperson for the Uppsala police, said, according to The Guardian. “The incident lasted several minutes. Once the test was carried out he left.”

Snoop, 43, took immediately to social media to protest his arrest. He posted a video on Instagram, calling his experience “racial profiling” and apologizing to his Swedish fans, saying he would “never be back to your country, it’s been real.” (Be forewarned: all videos in this post are NSFW for language.)

Ftp 💥💥💥💥🔫✈️

A video posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

Snoop followed the initial Instagram video posts with another one, this time in black and white and assuring his fans that he “made it through” (again, this video is NSFW for language.)

Message to my fans n fam !!

A video posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

“They took me down there, made me pee in a cup, didn’t find s–t,” Snoop says in the grainy shot.

The rapper has had a history of using drugs. His songs often feature blatant references to his love for marijuana.

The results of the urine test were not immediately available.

 

TIME Military

Bowe Bergdahl Caught Up in California Pot Raid

U.S. Army/Getty Images In this undated image provided by the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl poses in front of an American flag.

But he was found to be uninvolved with marijuana farm, and was not arrested

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years, found himself caught up in a raid on a marijuana farm in California on Tuesday.

The pot raid, originally reported in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, took place on a farm where Bergdahl was visiting friends on authorized leave. He was found to be uninvolved with the marijuana operation and was not arrested. The Pentagon reportedly asked Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman to deliver Bergdahl to Santa Rosa to be collected by the army.

Bergdahl returned from Afghanistan in June 2014 after five years in captivity; in exchange, the U.S. government released five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo. He was subsequently charged with desertion and will face court martial.

[Anderson Valley Advertiser]

TIME Innovation

How Marijuana Can Help Mend Broken Bones

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Can marijuana help broken bones heal?

By Judah Ari Gross in the Times of Israel

2. Parking spaces make it harder to build affordable housing.

By Joseph Stromberg in Vox

3. A decade ago, the west didn’t take a similar deal with Iran, and paid with a decade of regional chaos.

By Gareth Evans at Project Syndicate

4. Want better police relations with the community? Let teenagers train the cops.

By Brentin Mock in CityLab

5. Could today’s militias dividing Iraq and Syria become the peacekeepers of a future truce?

By Barbara F. Walter in Political Violence at a Glance

 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY real estate

Seniors Are Seeking Out States Where Marijuana is Legal

senior woman smoking marijuana pipe
Norma Jean Gargasz—Alamy

The top moving destination in 2014 was Oregon, which voted to legalize marijuana last November.

When choosing retirement locales, a few factors pop to mind: climate, amenities, proximity to grandchildren, access to quality healthcare.

Chris Cooper had something else to consider – marijuana laws.

The investment adviser from Toledo had long struggled with back pain due to a fractured vertebra and crushed disc from a fall. He hated powerful prescription drugs like Vicodin, but one thing did help ease the pain and spasms: marijuana.

So when Cooper, 57, was looking for a place to retire, he ended up in San Diego, since California allows medical marijuana. A growing number of retirees are also factoring in the legalization of pot when choosing where to spend their golden years.

“Stores are packed with every type of person you can imagine,” said Cooper who takes marijuana once or twice a week, often orally. “There are old men in wheelchairs, or women whose hair is falling out from chemotherapy. You see literally everybody.”

Cooper, who figures he spends about $150 on the drug each month, is not alone in retiring to a marijuana-friendly state.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing medical marijuana use. A handful – Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and D.C. – allow recreational use as well.

The U.S. legal marijuana market was $2.7 billion in 2014, a figure expected to rise to $3.4 billion this year, according to ArcView Market Research.

Figuring out how many people are retiring to states that let you smoke pot is challenging since retirees do not have to check off a box on a form saying why they chose a particular location to their final years.

But “there is anecdotal evidence that people with health conditions which medical marijuana could help treat, are relocating to states with legalized marijuana,” said Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy at University of California, Los Angeles who studies retiree migration trends.

He cited data from United Van Lines, which show the top U.S. moving destinations in 2014 was Oregon, where marijuana had been expected to be legalized for several years and finally passed a ballot initiative last November.

Two-thirds of moves involving Oregon last year were inbound. That is a 5 percent jump over the previous year, as the state “continues to pull away from the pack,” the moving company said in a report.

The Mountain West – including Colorado, which legalized medical marijuana in 2000, and recreational use in 2012 – boasted the highest percentage of people moving there to retire, United Van Lines said. One-third of movers to the region said they were going there specifically to retire.

Lining Up for Pot

The image of marijuana-using seniors might seem strange, but it is the byproduct of a graying counterculture. Much of the baby boom generation was in college during the 1960s and 70s, and have had much more familiarity with the drug than previous generations.

Many of the health afflictions of older Americans push them to seek out dispensaries for relief.

“A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association. “Chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite: All of those things are widespread among seniors.”

Since those in their 60s and 70s presumably have no desire to be skulking around on the criminal market in states where usage is outlawed, it makes sense they would gravitate to states where marijuana is legal.

“In Colorado, since legalization, many dispensaries have seen the largest portion of sales going to baby boomers and people of retirement age,” West said.

The folks at the sales counters agree: Their clientele has proven to be surprisingly mature.

“Our demographic is not punk kids,” added Karl Keich, founder of Seattle Medical Marijuana Association, a collective garden in Washington State. “About half of the people coming into our shop are seniors. It’s a place where your mother or grandmother can come in and feel safe.”

Read next: Can You Buy Marijuana With a Credit Card?

TIME Marijuana

First-ever TV Pot Ad Yanked by Colorado Station

Marijuana Supporters March In Hemp Parade
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A man smokes licenced medicinal marijuana.

Plans were cancelled due to legal concerns

Monday was almost a landmark day in marijuana legalization books: what is said to be the first ever TV ad for recreational marijuana was scheduled to be broadcasted on an ABC affiliate in Denver, where state law allows recreational pot use.

But the plans were cancelled on Friday due to legal concerns, according to the Denver Post.

The advertisement for the recreational marijuana company Neos doesn’t explicitly show or mention marijuana, using words such as “relax” and “recreate” instead of “toke up.” It seems to appeal to a broad demographic of young adults, showing footage of people hiking, partying, and camping. The advertisement encourages viewers to “now enjoy the best effects and control with Neos portable vape pen and recreate discreetly this summer.” Viewers are also encouraged to “recreate responsibly.” You can watch the ad here.

Even though the ad leaves the drug out, E.W. Scripps Company, which owns the local station, voiced concerns that the legalities of advertising a state-allowed — but federally-forbidden — substance are muddy, given that the federal government regulates the airwaves. “We are proud to be a company of free speech and open expression, but we have concerns about the lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern broadcast involving such ads,” a spokeswoman, Valerie Miller, told CNN Money.

Marijuana advocates have faced problems like this before on account of the clash between state and federal law. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling for an quadriplegic employee who was fired for using medical pot outside of work, even though medical marijuana was legal at the time. The court ruled that the company, Dish Network, could fire the employee because his self-medication still violated federal law.

TIME Marijuana

Colorado Health Board Votes ‘No’ on Treating PTSD With Marijuana

DENVER MARIJUANA TOUR HOSTED BY MY 420 TOURS
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post/Getty Images La Conte's grow facility is seen during a marijuana tour hosted by My 420 Tours in Denver, CO on December 06, 2014.

Nine states allow medical marijuana use for PTSD

Colorado health officials rejected a proposal by medical marijuana advocates to make cannabis an approved treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, against the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer.

It is the third time that Colorado’s health board has decided against approving cannabis for PTSD treatment, according to Reuters. Nine states allow cannabis to be prescribed for PTSD.

Colorado’s approved list of uses for marijuana include muscle spasms, epilepsy, cancer, severe nausea and glaucoma.

After hearing testimony from veterans hoping to access the drug, most of the board’s members said they could not support it because there is not enough scientific evidence that marijuana can help with PTSD and anecdotal evidence is not enough, according to The Denver Post. “I’m struggling with the science piece,” board member Dr. Christopher Stanley said.

But supporters of the proposal say that patients’ desires should be included in the calculus, rather than focusing only on hard science. “It is very important patients become part of this discussion,” said Teri Robnett, director of the Cannabis Patients Alliance and member of the state’s advisory council, according to The Denver Post. “Patients are getting enormous relief.”

TIME celebrities

Susan Sarandon Wants to ‘Blaze One’ With A$AP Rocky and Action Bronson

You go, Susan

Susan Sarandon may soon be one of the few 68-year-olds smoking joints with famous rappers.

After listening to rap anthem “1Train,” the Academy Award winner tweeted at rappers Action Bronson and A$AP Rocky, inviting them to clarify the meaning of her name-drop in the song over a joint.

On the track, Action Bronson raps, “You see us scramblin’, sellin’ Susan Sarandon/ the cloud of smoke like the Phantom.”

According to Complex, the lyric likely refers to Sarandon’s very public support of marijuana legalization.

Most recently, Sarandon told High Times magazine that she thinks people should smoke weed instead of drinking alcohol.

Sarandon is about two years late to the song — “1Train” came out in early 2013. Action Bronson and A$AP Rocky have yet to tweet back at the actress, but that is a gathering we’d love to see.

Read next: Meet the First Woman to Lead a Mexican Drugs Cartel

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Marijuana

Ohio Legislature Strikes Back Against Marijuana Legalization Bid

Marijuana plants grow on the grounds of the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, June 9, 2015.
ROBYN BECK—AFP/Getty Images Marijuana plants grow on the grounds of the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, June 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio took a step closer to making November’s ballot Tuesday, after its promoters turned in more than twice the required number of signatures.

But the measure will face competition at the polls. Ohio legislators also approved their own ballot measure on Tuesday to undermine the pot plan, which lawmakers worried would amount to a “marijuana monopoly” because of its provision that only 10 growers would control the wholesale pot market.
The lawmakers’ measure would block other measures that benefit select economic interest groups.

The marijuana ballot measure campaign, dubbed Responsible Ohio, is just one of many ballot measures in recent history that are designed to benefit their backers. The companies funding the Responsible Ohio campaign would control — and likely profit from — the marijuana growth sites should the measure pass.

As detailed by the Center for Public Integrity, the campaign’s director, Democratic activist Ian James, came up with the idea and is planning to pay his own firm $5.6 million to push the ballot initiative.

MORE: How an Ohio Ballot Measure Could Create a Marijuana Monopoly

Ohio Rep. Mike Curtin, a Democrat, said he sponsored the anti-monopoly measure because he opposes the way Responsible Ohio is using the citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, not because he opposes pot legalization.

“Are we going to allow a small group of investors, who have literally no background in drug policy… to carve themselves a special niche in our state’s founding document?” he said. “To me it’s galling. It’s nauseating.”

But James said voters should have the right to decide the issue.

“Some statehouse politicians believe the voters are smart enough to elect them, but they aren’t smart enough to decide ballot issues like marijuana legalization,” he said in an earlier statement.

James’ group still has to wait for the Secretary of State to determine if enough of its signatures are valid to make the ballot, which could take several weeks. It submitted 695,273 signatures to the state, far more than the 305,591 registered voters it needs to qualify.

If voters approve both of the conflicting measures, Ohio law says whichever gets the most votes would win.

But Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, recently said that if both passed, the legislatively referred anti-monopoly measure would block Responsible Ohio’s plan because citizen-initiated measures take 30 days to go into effect.

The issue could end up before a judge.

If both pass, “we have a very interesting court fight on our hands,” Curtin said.

This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative media organization in Washington, D.C. Read more of its investigations on the influence of money in politics or follow it on Twitter.

TIME Rand Paul

Rand Paul Becomes First Major-Party Candidate to Court Pot Donors

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a campaign stop at an Embassy Suites hotel on June 29, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a campaign stop at an Embassy Suites hotel on June 29, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

DENVER (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul courted donors from the new marijuana industry Tuesday, making the Kentucky senator the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly seek support from the legal weed business.

Paul’s fundraiser at the Cannabis Business Summit — tickets started at $2,700, the maximum donation allowed for the primary contest — came as the marijuana industry approached its first presidential campaign as a legal enterprise.

The candidate entered the closed-door fundraiser through a private hallway, instead of visiting the convention floor or meeting pot business owners who weren’t donating to him.

But many of the 40 or so people who attended the fundraiser called his appearance at the summit a milestone. The campaign did not release fundraising totals.

“This is a historical moment, that our industry is now working together with a presidential candidate,” said Tripp Keber, owner of Denver-based Dixie Elixirs, which makes cannabis-infused sodas and sweets.

Another fundraiser attendee, Mitzi Vaughn of Seattle, managing attorney for a law firm that caters to pot businesses, said Paul criticized drug war-era policies but didn’t specifically say what would change if he were elected.

“Most of us, despite what others think, are in this to end the drug war,” Vaughn said.

Though legal weed business owners have been active political donors for years, presidential candidates have so far shied away from holding fundraisers made up entirely of marijuana-related entrepreneurs.

Former Republican New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson held a fundraiser with the Drug Policy Alliance in 2012 before leaving the GOP and running as a third-party candidate. But that event came before recreational pot was legal in any state.

“It really speaks to how important this issue is and how far it’s come,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a major sponsor of legalization campaigns in Colorado, Washington and other states.

“We’re seeing officials at the local, state and now federal level recognize this is now a legitimate industry, just like any other legal industry in many facets,” Tvert said.

Paul has embraced state marijuana experiments, while other candidates have either taken a wait-and-see approach or expressly vowed to challenge state legalization efforts.

Paul has joined Democrats in the Senate to sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition on the use of medical marijuana. He also backs an overhaul of federal drug-sentencing guidelines, along with a measure to allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

Asked last year whether marijuana should be legal, Paul said, “I haven’t really taken a stand on that, but I’m against the federal government telling (states) they can’t.”

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