Gov. Chris Christie spent about 85 percent of his State of the State address Tuesday talking about fighting addiction. Could legalized marijuana actually be a weapon in that war?

Dr. David Nathan, founder of Doctors For Cannabis Regulation and one of the founding steering committee members of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform thinks so.

"In states where medical cannabis is legal, recent studies have shown a 25 percent reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths," he said. "We can't say that reduction is necessarily because of cannabis use, but the correlation is worth our attention. In 2015 alone, almost 1,600 people in New Jersey died from drug overdoses, mostly from opioids like heroin and fentanyl. In a situation this dire, we need to look at anything and everything with the potential to curb opioid addiction, which often begins with prescription opioid medications."

What did Nathan think of the governor's address?

"Gov. Christie outlined a number of proposals to address the opioid epidemic. Doctors like me who recognize the war on drugs has been a complete disaster certainly welcome the governor's renewed emphasis on education and treatment," Nathan said. "We have seen, time and again, that criminalizing the use of drugs like opioids does little to prevent or even deter their use. If the governor would only apply the same logic to cannabis, New Jersey could finally join the prescient American states that have fully legalized cannabis for personal use."

While other politicians in New Jersey, including Senate President Sweeney, have explored the possibility of legalized marijuana, Gov. Christie remains staunchly against it, saying as recently as Nov. 16 on "Ask The Governor."

“You’re damn right I’m the only impediment. And I am going to remain the only impediment until January of 2018,” Christie said on the show. "I have watched too many kids start their addiction with alcohol and marijuana and then move on to much more serious drugs. Every study shows that marijuana is a gateway drug and every study shows that marijuana causes damage.”

Studies on marijuana’s gateway effects, however, are not as conclusive as Christie suggests.

Steve Trevelise is on the air from Monday-Thursday, 7 to 11 p.m. Tweet him @realstevetrev or @nj1015.

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