While America is still getting used to the idea of legalized marijuana in states including Colorado and Washington, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made up his mind about whether or not he will attempt to put the genie back in the bottle.
Speaking on the subject on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Christie stated directly that he would federally prosecute marijuana sales in states that voted to legalize it.
Here’s the relevant exchange, via the Face the Nation transcript:
DICKERSON: You said marijuana is a gateway drug. If you were president, would you return the federal prosecutions in these states like Colorado, Washington State?
DICKERSON: Go after it?
CHRISTIE: Yes, sir.
DICKERSON: So, if somebody enjoying that now in your state, if you’re president, that is getting turned off?
DICKERSON: And how are you going to win Colorado when you do that?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think there’s probably a lot of people in Colorado who are not too thrilled with what is going on there right now.
And you know the way you win any state? You go out and you tell people the truth and you lay out your ideas, and you either win or you lose. But I don’t believe that people want to be told just what they want to hear. I believe they want to be told the truth as the person who is running sees it. And if I choose to do that, I will go out there in Colorado.
And I have done that. When I went out and campaigned for folks in Colorado, I have said it. So, it’s not like I’m going to pander or hide. I’m going to say what I think. And if there’s folks who disagree, they disagree, but I also don’t know that that will be the only thing they will vote on.
But a recent poll of the state by Quinnipiac University shows that many voters in Colorado are content with their decision to legalize marijuana.
Sixty-two percent of voters support the idea of legally possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use, according to an April 2015 poll.
In spite of their leniency for marijuana users, the majority of Colorado voters don’t seem to be embracing the use of marijuana themselves. Only 18 percent of Colorado voters indicated in the poll that they’ve tried marijuana since it became legal in the state in January 2014.
In the state of Washington, 56 percent of respondents in a May 2015 PPP poll said that they supported the idea of legalized marijuana usage with only 37 percent saying it should be illegal.
Christie angered marijuana supporters in Colorado after he took a swing at their state after legalizing marijuana, asserting that their decision affected their “quality of life.”
“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,” he said in April 2014 on his “Ask the Governor” radio program. “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.”
Incumbent Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper defended his state after Christie’s remarks, suggesting that the quality of life in Colorado was still superior to that of New Jersey.
“I guess the governor has never been to Colorado,” he said. “Only someone who has never been here could say the things that he said.”
In July 2014, Christie campaigned in Colorado for Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger to Hickenlooper, but didn’t back down on his comments.
“Listen, I’m not one of those guys who’s is going to change my opinion because standing in Colorado and go, ‘Well, what I really meant was …’ No, I meant what I said,” he told voters during a political rally. “It doesn’t mean that Colorado is not a great place, I’m sure it is. I think it would be greater if it didn’t legalize marijuana.”
During the campaign, Beauprez admitted that he was not in favor of the legalization of marijuana, he would work with Colorado officials to make sure it was implemented responsibly.
“Our primary concern should be to keep it out of the hands of our kids and to make sure law enforcement has the tools they need to successfully deal with the law,” he explained.
Hickenlooper won re-election in November 2014, beating Beauprez.