Colorado policymakers fire back at Gov. Christie over pot comments

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DENVER -- Few people still take New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seriously as a presidential contender, which may explain the governor's comments Monday derisively referring to this critical swing state as a land of "head shops popping up on every corner."

During a radio appearance Monday, Christie responded emphatically to a caller who asked about legalizing marijuana.

"You say it's going to come down the road," he said, interrupting the caller. "You know it may come down the road when I’m gone. It's not going to come while I’m here."

Christie, a Republican thought to be considered the GOP's 2016 front-runner until he got bogged down in a scandal late last year, showed little grasp of an obvious reality: that voters here and in Washington state -- not governors -- are the ones who had the power to legalize recreational marijuana.

"I think when you're running for president and you haven't been to a state you know nothing about, you're likely to say outlandish things," said Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, who helped write the state's new marijuana laws, which run more than 500 pages.

"When you're counting your electoral votes, I guess he doesn't think he needs Colorado's nine."

Christie's office could not tell FOX31 whether the governor has actually traveled to Colorado since recreational marijuana became legal on Jan. 1 or when the last time he visited the state actually was.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed Amendment 64, which voters approved in 2012 to legalize marijuana but has since directed his administration to implement the new law, responded to FOX31 Denver's request for a comment with a slew of statistics from his office, all showing Colorado ranking above New Jersey on economic development, job creation, innovation, technology, strong communities and so on.

The first statistic Hickenlooper's office offered showed Colorado ranked seventh among "top states for business" by CNBC.

New Jersey is ranked 42nd.

In a Healthways survey of healthy communities, Denver ranked seventh while New Jersey was 23rd, seemingly contradicting Christie's characterization of Colorado's communities being overrun by "head shops" and marijuana tourists.

"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 later in the broadcast, bringing up Colorado again on his own.

"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."

Mike Elliott, who represents the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, argued that Christie's brash assertions about quality of life and public safety belie the reality -- that legalizing marijuana has brought regulation and rule to what had been a black market enterprise.

"This is superior to an environment where it's the black market, it's people who use violence to sell it, they sell it to kids and -- 'would you like that heroin with that?'" Elliot said.

"There's no accountability to what New Jersey is doing; in these other states, marijuana has been out of control. We're building control into the system here."



    • deanb10

      How about Colorado’s K-12 ranking in the lowest 25th percentile of our country with Colorado State and the University of Colorado consistently ranked among the biggest party schools in the Nation? This, while at the same time New Jersey has among the best colleges and universities in the country and the highest per capita population of college educated citizens in the entire world.

      Did one of you say you would take Denver over Trenton? I have worked in both cities. Denver’s so called idea of equality is dominated by white sexist/feminist whining woman ruling the roost, while Trenton and pretty much all of NJ spares no efforts in making sure all race, creeds, colors, and religions are represented in state, federal, and corporate employment. And btw, its about time a white man got a job at one of their news stations!

      I miss quite a bit about living in Colorado, but neither of the above short comings of your fine state has ever impressed me.

      • P Thomas Holly

        Perhaps you didn’t notice all the segregation that goes on in the state of NJ. How the white privileged people don’t mix with any other race, and not even the poorer whites in the state. Look at Trenton, Camden and Newark. I find your statement unfounded about the state of NJ. Just because there is diversity in this state means nothing, racism and segregation is still EXTREMELY present.

  • deanb10

    Well, all of us are entitled to our opinions, aren’t we? So excuse the Governor of the State of New Jersey for remaining diligent in his original position on the legalization of marijuana that he made clear to the citizens of NJ when he was running for office; instead of swaying in the political wind and pandering to special interest groups or the State of Colorado for that matter. I personally disagree with him. I do not want people’s lives marred with an arrest record for smoking pot and think the extra tax money would do all of us some good. If I still lived in Colorado I would only agree that the Governor’s mannerisms were consistent with how New Jersey people communicate and not take his intensity to heart. And I would ponder the legitimacy of any claims he made.

  • deanb10

    RE: “When you’re counting your electoral votes, I guess he doesn’t think he needs Colorado’s nine.”

    I guess you don’t get it. The voters decide who gets your electoral votes. This is still one area that is not dominated by your incumbent politicians and corporate owned and legislatively emasculated news organizations.

    • cobobbles

      He was wrong about there being a head shop on every corner because they’re actually in the middle of the block.

  • Mary Anne Greer

    I am a conservative but I can’t stand Christie. Schools are better in new Jersey. Maybe public but not the charter schools. I couldn’t stand to live in such a small crowded state.

  • Snarky Cosmos

    Christie is entitled to his opinion; now here is why I wouldn’t live in New Jersey where my Mom was born.


    Infested with labor unions.

    Newark, Jersey City, Camden, need I say more?

    Close to New York City and Philadelphia, need I say more?

    Some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

    Ranks consistently as the highest for auto insurance rates in the nation.

    I won’t add in the natural factors the politicians have zero control over.

  • Joe Draper

    Personally, I dont live in either State, Prohibition of Cannabis is as bad as it was for alcohol, any fool putting this on a Moral Standing is Not doing his research, Mostly blowing wind out of his pie hole. Most people know who dont want Cannabis to be legal. That would be, F.O.P, Alcohol businesses, Prison Gaurd Unions, Big Pharma. Some day I hope people realize that legalizing this Plant, well get it off the black market and out of the Gangs who are murdering 40,000 Mexican people a year. When was the last time you saw a gang of thugs shooting innocent people to protect their Alcohol Tirff.

  • mtnrunner2

    “The quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey” > lol

    Apparently Christie is in the pocket of the pro-drug-gang lobbies.

    Nothing against New Jersey, but it’s not CO. And as for pot, I guess Christie is not a fan of liberty. It’s this whole thing we started working on in the late 1700s.

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