Marijuana: Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, rips Colorado's pot laws
More photos, video below.
Update below: Before becoming mired in a political scandal involving a bridge closure, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was once among the favorites to be nominated for President by the Republican Party, which could hold its 2016 convention here; Denver is a host-city finalist for the event.
Should Christie make a comeback as a presidential contender, he may find himself in a city and a state he's gone out of his way to deride over marijuana laws. And this week, he made his most passionate and negative statements about Colorado and pot yet.
Jennie Stormes was among the New Jersey parents who lobbied in favor of a law to allow sick New Jersey kids access to medical marijuana.
As we've reported, Christie argued that requiring a pediatrician and a psychiatrist to approve of a minor's MMJ use, with at least one needing to be registered with the state's program, is an important safeguard -- something he stressed via the following Colorado reference:
This approach is endorsed by the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises that children are at particular risk from the use of marijuana because their reactions to medications often differ from adults. Notably, at least one recent study has indicated a rise in emergency hospitalizations in Colorado for accidental marijuana ingestion in children.
In that study, which we reported about earlier in 2013, co-authors George Wang and Michael Kosnett looked at emergency room visits at Children's Hospital involving unintentional marijuana exposure in kids via ingestion. "We saw zero from January 2005 through September 2009" out of 790 patients that fit the criteria, Wang told us. "But from October 2009 through December 2011, we saw fourteen visits to the ER at Children's for children less than twelve who'd been unintentionally exposed to marijuana," out of 588 applicable patients.
The MMJ policy in New Jersey proved a challenge to Meghan and Brian Wilson, whose daughter Vivian suffers from seizures they wanted to treat with high-CBD, marijuana-derived medication.
Here's an excerpt from William Breathes's report on the Wilsons, published last month:
A bill allowing for high-CBD strains and edible forms for children eventually was signed into law, but not before New Jersey governor Chris Christie let it sit for months on his desk. At one point, Brian confronted Christie, telling him point-blank, "Don't let my daughter die, Governor."
But even with the new law, New Jersey's program has been slow to change; there are still no high-CBD strains or tinctures available through the state's three medical marijuana dispensaries. And since patients in New Jersey do not have the right to grow their own medicine, the Wilsons were left with few options.
Earlier this year, the Wilsons again tried to speed up access to high-CBD meds in New Jersey by helping legislators push a bill that would have allowed New Jersey MMJ patients reciprocity with other state medical marijuana programs; the hope was that they could purchase the medicine out of state and then bring it back home. But Christie promised to veto any changes to the medical marijuana program, arguing that he would be allowing the state to slide down a slippery slope to outright legalization.
Brian and Meghan Wilson with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN personality who's become a medical marijuana booster.
In the end, the Wilsons felt they had no other choice than to move to Colorado in order to get Vivian the treatment she needs. Meanwhile, Christie has become even more vocal about the dangers of marijuana, particularly for children.
The governor has a regular spotlight show on a station known as New Jersey 101.5, and during his most recent program, a caller asked him about the legalization of marijuana, citing the revenues being collected by Colorado as a reason to consider it. But before she could continue, Christie cut her off.
"You say it may come down the road," he notes in a clip captured on the video below. "You know when it may come down the road? When I'm gone, because it's not going to come along now."
He goes on to cite "a new study out in the Journal of Neuroscience that says that even casual marijuana smokers showed significant abnormalities in two vital brain regions important to motivation and emotion. Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.
"I am not going to be the governor who's going to tell our children and our young adults that marijuana use is okay, because it's not," he goes on, adding, "I don't care about the tax money that may come from it and I don't care if people think it's inevitable. It's not inevitable here. I'm not going to permit. Never -- as long as I'm governor. You want to elect somebody else who's going 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."
In a latter portion of the conversation not captured in the clip, Christie said, "Go to Colorado and see if you wanna live there. Head shops popping up on every corner and people flying in just to get high."
Or maybe visiting in order to accept the GOP nomination. Here's a video featuring an excerpt from Christie's aforementioned radio appearance, followed by (update) a longer clip provided by New Jersey 101.5 that includes Christie's comments about Colorado.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Lists & Weirdness archive circa April 16: "Top ten alternative Denver places to take Republicans deciding on 2016 convention site."
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