In a statement flush with irony and exaggeration, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized the “quality of life” in cannabis-loving Colorado on Tuesday, misrepresenting the effects marijuana legalization has had on the Centennial State while betraying a fundamental misunderstanding of his own state’s status in the pecking order of places people want to live.
According to CNN, the Republican governor and possible Presidential hopeful -- known to most Americans for the petty politics of the “Bridgegate” scandal -- took calls on his weekly radio show on Tuesday and was asked by a caller about “revenue and other business benefits of decriminalizing pot.” A bill was introduced by a New Jersey State Senator last month that would legalize small amounts of marijuana and place it under a regulated and taxed system similar to the one in Colorado.
“You say it's going to come down the road,” Christie told the caller. “You know it may come down the road when I’m gone. It's not going to come while I’m here.”
The emphatic response echoed previous statements made by the governor. However, CNN reports that “Christie later circled back to the issue on the radio show and expanded on his previous answer, bringing up Colorado on his own.”
"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, making a reasonable suggestion before swan-diving into a statement overflowing with misinformation and delusion.
"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."
Contrary to the governor’s assertion, major cities like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs have not seen “head shops popping up on every corner.” Furthermore, there are no marijuana dispensaries located at the Denver International Airport and consuming pot in public remains against the law. Also, Christie is governor of New Jersey, a place where Snooki is celebrated as a local treasure and Axe Body spray is considered fine cologne.
Seizing on Christie’s comments, Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet issued a statement to POLITICO extending an invitation to the governor to see what life is really like in Colorado.
“Whether it’s hiking season or snow season, we invite Gov. Christie to experience Colorado’s quality of life anytime. From the beauty of the rolling hills of the Eastern Plains to the magnificent landscapes in the mountains and from our smallest rural towns to our largest cities, Colorado offers the greatest quality of life in the nation. In fact, our quality of life is one reason more innovative companies are moving into the state. If Gov. Christie does find the time to visit, I’m sure he’ll find our Western hospitality on display.”
The office of Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, also issued a statement in response to Christie’s attack, pointing out several areas -- from Top States for Business to general well-being -- where Colorado outranks New Jersey.
The thoughtful, diplomatic responses reflect the character of Coloradans, most of whom have chosen not to partake in cannabis consumption even though it’s legal. By spreading misinformation in an attempt to justify his own prejudices against marijuana, Christie is inaccurately portraying an entire state as seedy and illicit. And if there’s one person in America who should be aware of the dangers of statewide stereotyping, it’s the governor of New Jersey.