Cannabis Reform Isn’t the Only Issue: Utah Advocates Un-endorse Jason Christensen, Candidate for House District 64

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When a political candidate takes a stand against prohibition, especially in a conservative state like Utah, cannabis activists often offer support and endorsement. However, sometimes a candidate’s position on other important issues can overshadow their support of drug reform.

Jason Christensen, candidate for Utah’s House District 64 in Utah County, was officially endorsed earlier this year by Utah CARE, a grassroots organization established to teach Cannabis Awareness, Reform and Education. Utah CARE had sent an email to every candidate for Utah public office, requesting an official statement regarding cannabis policy. In his reply to the Utah CARE email, Christensen expressed his support for decriminalization, stating:

You are well aware of the federal laws concerning these plants, and the awful ramifications against ones property regarding the enforcement of these laws. Here in a America we also have a huge problem of non-violent “criminals” occupying our prisons and jails involving these plants as well.

As a legislator a bill could be drafted to decriminalize the plants from with in the State, allowing certain non-violent “criminals” to go free. As well as to stop the injustice of the illegal no knock warrants of such plants. Allowing the police to focus on more serious and violent crimes.

Christensen’s email also outlined the following plan:

My intent if elected is three fold:

A. Nullify illegal federal laws and enforce the US Constitution where the feds are not doing so.

B. Repeal such illegal laws and/or codes that the State has passed throughout the years and

C. Restrict the city corporations, and encourage the idea of city charterships “city constitutions which coincides with the State and Federal constitutions”.

Christensen concluded by stating, “Yes, I would run such Nullification resolutions regarding the illegal war on drugs. Yes, I would be interested in running and or working with another sponsor regarding the decriminalization of such plants. I hope this has been enlightening, informational, and helpful and I Hope to talk with you soon regarding similar policies”.

These words were taken directly from his e-mail response to Utah CARE, complete with spelling and grammatical errors.

I presented Christensen’s nomination for political endorsement to members of Utah CARE and we elected to endorse his candidacy for District 64 in Utah County, based solely on his cannabis opinion.

Jason Christensen (Facebook photo)

Jason Christensen (Facebook photo)

Regretfully, this morning, after a long weekend of speaking with members of our community, I have determined Utah CARE can not endorse Christensen for ANY type of political office in Utah.

Many Utah cannabis advocates are also proud members of a large LGBTQ community in the state. From kids to parents, friends and loved ones, we support equal rights (not “special rights”) for everyone – from cannabis legalization to civil rights. We believe everyone has the right to live peacefully, any way they choose, as long as they do not infringe upon anyone else’s freedom.

Here are some of Christensen’s comments regarding his position on LGBTQ rights that illustrate why, despite Christensen’s views on cannabis, Utah CARE – and I personally – cannot support his candidacy:

“Marriage is supposed to be a church policy as it were and in my church that is set by God. There are those that are using this marriage issue to force different principles such as homosexual marriage to go contrary to ones beliefs. Or their own rules.”

“We are supposed to a separation of state from church, not the other way around. So I view the best way to restore the principle of marriage is to defeat same sex marriage to defend the state constitutions. Once defeated then we can go after the state-based state-regulated marriage licenses.”

“Could you only imagine if a family oriented business with the reputation of promoting family values is forced to hire someone that promotes the contrary? Could you only imagine that a renter that religiously believes in the practice of homosexuality as a sin is forced against his or her will to rent to such persons living contrary to their beliefs? Could you only imagine that churches that believes that homosexuality is a sin is forced to adopt their bathrooms to adopt transsexual restrooms? Could you imagine that private or public owned schools is forced to adopt transexual locker rooms and rest rooms?”

Kris Cantil, Member of the Board of Directors PFLAG, Salt Lake City, activist, and working mom, was shocked by Christensen’s comments, stating she was “sad and terribly disappointed,” and “Yes, I would rather risk being a (cannabis) criminal, than have someone (like Christensen) in office.”

Christensen also had a public conversation with many community members on Facebook on March 22, 2014 regarding an article about a California teacher, Gary Sconce, who is in the process of transitioning. Christensen’s comments further demonstrated his hateful and bigoted attitude.

Christensen recently wrote on his blog, under the title “The Ploys of Discrimination”, that: “Before I speak to you today as to certain evil agendas, let me first say that it is simply wrong for anyone to be discriminated against, and that all men have certain inalienable rights before ones maker. Those rights includes the right to own and be safe with in ones own property. The right to defend ones self, family, and country men. The rights for free speech and worshiping of one’s God. These God given rights with in the United States of America are supposed to be protected by our Supreme Law of the Land, the US Constitution.” (Read the entire blog post for blatant examples of Christensen’s homophobia).

While candidate Christensen speaks of discrimination as if he has ever experienced it, I’d like to remind him that he is a middle aged, white, Mormon man, living within the confines of the LDS Church, in the middle of the heart of the church, Utah County. He has never had to stand in line at the Utah Food Bank; he has never had to fear losing his job because of his gender or sexual identity; he has never been beaten simply for being who he is.

Sometimes, other issues of freedom and civil rights cannot be overlooked simply because a candidate is pro-cannabis policy reform. In this case, Utah CARE does officially recall our recent endorsement of Christensen’s candidacy based on the fact that we believe in and live with EQUALITY, period.