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{Published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, April 24, 2014}

Gov. Chris Christie, what are you smoking?

Apparently, you believe that because Colorado has legalized pot, New Jersey is a better place to live. Are you on drugs?

Just this week, you said: “For the people who are enamored with (legalizing marijuana), go to Colorado and see if you want to live there. 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.”

Oh, boy. Where do I start?

According to the American Lung Association, of the 25 most polluted cities based on any of its three most important criteria, five are in New Jersey. None are in Colorado.

Looks like you should worry more about what goes into your air than ours.

According to survey data from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, Colorado is one of the top 10 states for business. New Jersey is near the bottom. Maybe some more head shops would help.

The mayor of your largest city has called you out for having an inmate population that’s over 60 percent black, in a state with a 13 percent black population. According to an exhaustive review of your jails by the Drug Policy Alliance, your prison system is so inhumanly crowded that nearly three-fourths of your inmates are awaiting trial or sentencing. Could your war on drug users have something to do with that?

Were you in Denver for the 4/20 celebration? Did you see who showed up? People don’t come to Colorado to get high. It’s not worth it. They can get a buzz anywhere, even in New Jersey.

People came to Denver to make a point: American citizens can smoke marijuana and still be ordinary, decent human beings who shouldn’t be thrown in jail. By you or anyone else.

I’m sorry you feel having a head shop on the corner negatively impacts your quality of life. Carrie Nation felt the same way about saloons. But how well exactly did Prohibition improve the “quality of life” for residents of inner-city Chicago in the 1930s? Or Detroit? Or New York? Or New Jersey? Fortunately, we eventually figured it out and moved on.

Perhaps you’ve heard that President Barack Obama plans to give clemency to thousands of federal inmates currently serving time for nonviolent drug crimes, at least some of which involve marijuana. Just like alcohol Prohibition, we’re figuring things out and moving on. You’re not exactly helping.

It’s great that you’re concerned about New Jersey’s quality of life. After all, that’s your job. But there’s another factor of quality of life, Governor, that you don’t seem to be interested in. It’s called personal freedom. It’s the ability of Americans in your state to do things that are important to them, as long as they mind their own business and don’t harm anybody else.

You may not make the same choices that other people make. That’s your right and privilege. But to people who want to make a different choice, exercising that freedom makes a huge difference in their quality of life. Whether it’s just to get a buzz, or to relieve a debilitating medical condition, freedom to choose what goes into your body is an important part of “quality of life.” We Coloradans have, to our great credit, chosen to take that freedom seriously.

But I don’t expect you to understand. You’re the governor of a state where we Americans can’t be trusted to pump our own gas. So rolling our own joints must be beyond the pale.

Did I mention Colorado ranks No. 1 in Fourteeners? Come out here and bag one with me.

Then you can talk about getting high in Colorado.