New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who hasn’t done himself a political favor in a very long time, apparently sees Colorado weed as an easy way to score a few comeback points.
Christie slammed Colorado’s “quality of life” in a radio interview in April, claiming the presence of legal pot is pulling the state down. The governor failed to note the irony that New Jersey has never been known for its own quality of life.
“For the people who are enamored with the idea, with the income, the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there,” Christie said. “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high. To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the State of New Jersey, and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.”
Voters in Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, as did voters in Washington State. The first retail pot shops opened in Colorado Jan. 1 and have been doing brisk business ever since.
So far, contrary to Christie’s expectations, Coloradans are happy with legalization. A poll released in March found 57 percent of the state’s voters think cannabis should remain legal. That was up from 53 percent who supported legal pot in December and 55.3 percent who voted for it in 2012.
The same survey found more than 60 percent of voters feel legalization has made the state better or had no effect. Just a third said it had made the state a worse place to live.
So if Coloradans themselves are to be believed, Christie doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Circumstances in New Jersey may explain why he’s talking so loudly.
The governor is mired in a major scandal that broke last year. It’s still unclear how much it will cost him politically, but the likelihood he’ll grab the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 has dimmed considerably.
At the same time, Christie’s poll numbers have tanked and the investigation into the scandal drags on slowly. Apparently the governor has decided to take a very vocal, very public stand against legal marijuana, perhaps as a way to divert attention from his troubles.
Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey, but Christie has done everything in his power to stop it. He refused to enforce the law for years, he blocked dispensaries from opening, and he has prevented thousands of patients from registering for medication.
Despite strong voter support for reform, Christie has vowed to stop decriminalization or legal cannabis.
“You know, it may come down the road when I’m gone,” he said. “It’s not going to come while I’m here.”