Why Legal Marijuana Supporters Should Worry About A Chris Christie Presidency

Why Supporters Of Legal Marijuana Should Worry About A Chris Christie Presidency

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), campaigning Friday with New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, offered a glimpse of how he'd handle states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized recreational marijuana if he becomes president. It doesn't sound good.

In a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director at Marijuana Policy Project and posted on his Facebook page, Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative in Manchester Ward 3 is heard asking Christie: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C. perhaps. If you were president, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"

"Probably not well," Christie responded as he walked away from the conversation at a restaurant campaign stop. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens."

Just before the brief video ends, Christie adds that he isn't "worried about becoming president."

"It's one thing for Gov. Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado, quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became president," Slattery told The Huffington Post.

Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, said this of Christie's comment: "Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs."

Currently, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with New York state the latest. Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, with the first sales in Colorado beginning on Jan. 1. Several other states are considering some form of legal marijuana.

There has been lengthy speculation about a possible Christie run for president in 2016. Christie has spent much of 2014 embroiled in a New Jersey traffic scandal and state budget deficit woes. He hasn't said whether he'll seek his party's presidential nomination. When it comes to the so-called Bridgegate traffic scandal, Christie has said he doesn't believe he has so much "baggage" that he couldn't run for president if he decides to.

"Either Chris Christie truly doesn't have any future political ambitions or he hasn't gotten the memo that poll after poll shows that a supermajority of American voters wants the federal government to butt out of state marijuana laws," Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell said in reaction to the video. "Blocking sensible reforms in his own state as governor is one thing, but insinuating that he'd expend federal resources to overturn the duly enacted laws of other states is completely out of touch."

Christie has made no secret of his opposition to marijuana legalization in New Jersey. During an April radio program, Christie slammed Colorado's recreational marijuana laws, saying they ushered in a "quality of life" problem that he didn't want in his state. That statement prompted the office of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to release several statistics comparing New Jersey unfavorably with Colorado, including quality of life rankings.

A recent Gallup poll found that for the first time 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. A vast majority of Americans -- 86 percent -- believe that medical marijuana should be legalized, a CBS News survey found.

This article has been updated to include the comment of Christie's spokesman.

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