TRENTON, N.J. (CBS4) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rejected any efforts to legalize marijuana, dismissing claims of “inevitable” legalization already in place in Colorado and Washington state. He rejected any prospective tax or revenue benefits, stating that he would “never” legalize the substance as long as he is governor.
Speaking with a caller on NJ 1015, the Republican New Jersey governor repeatedly held his stance against the legalization of marijuana, saying that he will never allow the “gateway drug” to harm children and young adults as long as he is in office – regardless of any economic benefits.
“I’ve heard you speak on it before, there are pros and cons with everything,” the caller, identified as Sue, told Christie. “It’s going to happen down the pipeline: it creates industry, it creates jobs, it creates money, revenue – look at California. Look at Colorado, what they’ve done with the money they have …”
“Hey Sue, let me just stop you right there,” interjected Christie. “You say it’s going to come down the road. You know when it may come down the road? When I’m gone. Because it’s not gonna come while I’m here.”
Christie also brought up the topic Monday night on “Ask the Governor,” a monthly radio show.
“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 that we want to have here in the state of New Jersey, and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.”
Christie also referenced in the NJ 1015 show a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience that suggests “casual marijuana smokers showed significant abnormalities in two vital brain region important in motivation and emotion,” Christie read. “Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.”
The small, 20-person study of young adults ages 18 to 25 referenced by Christie showed evidence that even casual marijuana smokers show brain changes that could be a “problem later on with prolonged use,” study author Dr. Hans Breiter told the Associated Press.
“Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week,” co-author Hans Breiter, quoted in Northwestern University’s Science Newsline. Breiter hailed the study as the first to analyze the effects of light marijuana use. “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school,” he said. “Our data directly says this is not the case.”
However, the study authors cautioned that previous studies had shown mixed results and that larger studies would be required to explore anatomical brain changes among casual to moderate marijuana users – defined as smoking an average of 11 joints each week.
But Christie held ground on his continued opposition to both medical and recreational legalization of marijuana, noting that the health risks are too great for him to authorize in the state of New Jersey.
“I am not going to be the governor who is going to tell our children and our young adults that marijuana use is OK. Because it’s not,” said Christie. “And it’s now being medically proven by the Journal of Neurosciences that it’s not even in casual, occasional use.”
“I don’t care about the tax money that may come from it. And I don’t care quite frankly that people think it’s inevitable. It’s not inevitable here. I’m not gonna permit it. Never. As long as I’m governor,” Christie continued.
“You want to elect somebody else who’s willing to legalize marijuana and expose our children to that gateway drug, and the effects it has on their brain? You’ll have to live with yourself if you do that, but it’s not going to be this governor who does it.”
— Benjamin Fearnow
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