Chris Christie Just Told a Huge Lie About Marijuana

September 17th 2015

On Wednesday, CNN hosted the second GOP debate of the presidential election season, and after more than two hours of contentious, back-and-forth arguments about war, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and the Iran nuclear deal, four of the top 11 Republican primary candidates talked about an issue that few imagined would come up at all: marijuana. Unfortunately, the conversation included one of the oldest marijuana myths.

RELATED: It Turns out the Worst Rumors About Marijuana Are Dead Wrong

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) defended the right of states to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, citing the Tenth Amendment. He also invoked stories of parents using the substance to treat children who suffer from a range of medical issues that marijuana has been shown to help. He suggested that many who oppose the legalization of marijuana, including at least one on the stage (hint: former Florida governor Jeb Bush) are hypocrites for smoking pot and subsequently supporting policies that criminalize its use.

Rand Paul also criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for the seeming hypocrisy of having a medical marijuana system in New Jersey while supporting a federal policy that maintains the illegal status of the substance.

In response to Paul's criticism, Christie touted the fact that his state implemented a medical marijuana system that allowed patients to use cannabis for select medical purposes, per a doctor's recommendation. That system does not protect patients from prosecution on a federal level, however—a point that Paul was quick to point out.

Christie, in turn, argued that while he was on the record supporting medical marijuana, he was fundamentally opposed to allowing Americans to smoke pot recreationally, arguing that pot does not simply hurt individual users but the families and employers of users. And he invoked a common marijuana myth: pot as a gateway drug.

RELATED: Marijuana Might Actually be an Anti-Gateway Drug

"Look at the decrease in productivity," he said. "Look at the way people get used and move on to use other drugs when they use marijuana as a gateway drug."

ATTN: has previously reported on why the "gateway drug" theory of marijuana is misguided, promoted by the same cast of anti-legalization proponents that the country saw advance "reefer madness" propaganda, as the 1980s War on Drugs went into full effect. Incidentally, Christie also suggested that the Drug War was a failure, and though he said that he would trust the states to pass their own laws respecting marijuana policy, he declined to say whether or not he would do anything to reschedule or decriminalize pot on a federal level.

Marijuana is a non-toxic and non-addictive substance that has actually been shown to reduce the rates of addiction and overdose from other, harder drugs such as opioid pain killers, as a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined.

Though this myth was brought up unchecked, the overall conversation about marijuana was one of the highlights of the second GOP debate, bringing the oft-shunned discourse on marijuana to a national stage.

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