New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently criticized Colorado for its laws regarding legalized marijuana, and state Democrats, in particular those not up for reelection, are firing back. Chrisitie recently basted the citizens of Colorado for allowing “head shops”, stores where marijuana paraphernalia is sold, to pop up on every corner. “To me,” he said. “It’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey.”
Most Coloradans response, so far, has been, “What?”
It is not just the THC-infused rarefied air of the Rocky Mountains that has them saying this. Both Democrats and Republicans would point to the fact that Colorado cities and towns consistently rank in the top cities and places to live in the U.S. when polls are taken, regardless of criteria. None of the lists sourced contain any New Jersey cities.
While most GOP State Representatives and officials in Colorado did not support the legalization of marijuana, the climate among registered voters who are Republican can best be characterized as divided. So it is not likely they will be joining ranks with the New Jersey Governor any time soon. Many conservatives feel marijuana revenue for the state is a big positive, while several of the more conservative cities in Colorado have, indeed, banned sales of the recreational drug since it was officially legalized last January. This signifies it is not just Democrats and Republicans firing back at each other over the issue of legalized marijuana in Colorado but it is the Democrats who have publicly shot back at New Jersey’s governor.
The issue over legalized pot has voters in both parties split over the parameters on the drug’s use within the state and the reputation it has brought since being legalized. Most voters in opposition to legalized marijuana, both Democrat and Republican, are concerned about the drug’s potential to be abused by children and underage users, particularly in the form of edibles such as baked goods and candy. Several regulations and measures are being proposed and passed in attempt to keep this from happening.
Despite pros and cons within both camps, the debate over marijuana is sure to have its role in the upcoming elections of 2014. Several of the state’s conservative gubernatorial candidates have stated they are tired of the national attention it is generating but also on the amount of legislative effort that has gone into it, characterizing it as being “burdensome”. One GOP candidate for Governor, Tom Tancredo, however, supported the amendment when it was being voted on. All candidates have agreed, at this point, the issue is not at the top of the agenda. However, this may, and probably will change as Election Day draws near.
Democratic Senator Michael Bennett, who is up for reelection in 2016, invited Governor Chris Christie to come out west and experience Colorado’s quality of life anytime whether it is “hiking season or snow season” and said, “Colorado offers the greatest quality of life in the nation.”
Governor Hickenlooper, who is up for reelection, did not respond to Christie’s comments directly but a spokesman of his has said, “A lot of people think Colorado is a great place to live, work and play.”
Hickenlooper has been the state’s greatest mediator on the issue, consistently reminding other states to “look before they leap” and keeping the concern of underage pot use at the forefront of dialogue on the substance.
Incumbent Democratic senator Mark Udall has not issued a public statement about the remarks.
The comments of Chris Christie Monday night about marijuana and the Colorado way of life is definitely spurning a response among all citizens in the state and caused some Democrats fire back, publicly. However, the issue has yet to be as divisive as support of Obamacare, at least in a partisan sense, on the minds and radar of Colorado politicians and voters at this point in the election year.
By Joseph Porter