BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – You knew it had to come up as an issue in a presidential debate taking place in Colorado — legal pot.

During the Republican debate Wednesday night at the University of Colorado, the state’s legal marijuana industry came up in a joke — made by Sen. Ted Cruz — and then it came up in a serious Q & A — between CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) smiles during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) smiles during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kasich told the crowd assembled at the Coors Events Center in Boulder that he’s not a fan of legalization. He was responding to a question about it from Quintanilla, who pointed out that Colorado has gotten $150 million in new revenue since stores began selling the drug legally.

“Sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster,” Kasich said from the podium. “Drugs is one of the greatest scourges in this country. I’ve spent five years of my administration working with my team to try to do a whole sort of things to try to rein in the problem of overdosing.”

John Kasich

Presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich (L-R) speaks while Mike Huckabee looks on during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorado’s Coors Events Center Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

With pot famously legalized in Colorado nearly three years ago, many states have been looking to the Centennial state as an example for how to legalize and then generate tax money off sales of the drug.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the candidates in the debate, has been openly critical of legal pot in the state. Congressman Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat who represents Boulder, even made reference to Christie’s opposition in an introductory message to the candidates earlier in the day. But no one posed any questions to Christie about the issue during the two hour debate.

Sen. Ted Cruz managed to slip in his joke about weed during an exchange with moderator John Quintanilla.

Quintanilla had first posed a question to Cruz about the national budget which Cruz sidestepped. Later on, the slightly peeved moderator gave him another chance to answer it and said “We’re clearly not having that beer you mentioned,” referencing a statement by Cruz that he might not be a candidate a voter would want to share a beer with.

Cruz ended up giving his response to Quintanilla’s question but he first remarked “I’ll buy you a tequila — or even some famous Colorado brownies.” The comment visibly threw the moderator off for a moment and produced a big smile.

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