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“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. 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.”
-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
As a new resident of Colorado who has been living here just about a month now in Douglas County south of Denver about 40 minutes with my husband and two sons, I fail to see what Chris Christie’s issue is with legal cannabis in Colorado.
Certainly 4/20 weekend was packed with people here to experience legal cannabis. I was at 3D Cannabis Center twice a day for 3 days starting the Friday prior to what is known as the cannabis culture’s high holy holiday. The orderly lines were swiftly processed by the adept and capable staff. I saw grannies wearing fanny packs and old sweaters from Missouri marveling at the World’s Largest Cannabis Viewing Corridor, fondly reminiscing about their first experiences with the “miracle plant” in the 60’s and how they’d never stopped loving it. They were real “ground folk”, salt of the Earth. I discovered they were farmers after a spirited conversation with them and Operations Manager Christie Lunsford. I spoke with another pair, this time two young gentlemen from Florida, both gainfully employed, who had come to Denver to experience the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup and the 4/20 Rally at the capitol building downtown. They were both wide-eyed and smiling, very happy to be in a place where they could speak freely and expressed their hopes for a great future in the cannabis industry, eager to learn organic ways to bring people cannabis. They were cleanly dressed, articulate and intelligent.
During the course of my weekend working at the Cannabis Cup to help raise funds for the NORML Women’s Alliance, I also stopped by the Wake’n Bacon brunch by Edible Events at Sugar Bakeshop & Coffeehouse in downtown Denver where smart flower print dresses, khaki and the occasional celebratory pajama was donned. There was candied bacon, fresh fruit, mimosas and of course, cannabis. NPR was covering the event and the organizer, Jane West, flitted about tending to guests’ needs, gathering stemware (yes, real and very nice glasses) while commiserating with people mostly in their late thirties and older guests as well. There were no fights and everyone had a lovely, safe and responsible time.
After the Wake’n Bacon event, I went back to the Cannabis Cup to table for the second day. We spoke to men and women of all ages, though truth be told, the Cup seemed to be primarily young men ages 21-35. I also ran into expatriates of other states who are parents and patients, some of whom are from the New Jersey area like us. They came to Colorado for cannabis medicine for their child or for themselves. With a formal diagnosis of Complex PTSD, I did not qualify in New Jersey and do not in Colorado, but citizens are working diligently to add it as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. The legal flexibility of cannabis offered in the Centennial state was really a big draw for us to come here.
There are other reasons to love Colorado, too. According to CBSNews:
“Gallup’s Well-Being Index reveals that the quality of life remained relatively high in Colorado and Washington State after recreational marijuana use among adults was legalized by voters in those states in 2012. The Index didn’t specifically consider pot use but was based on a series of metrics such as emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior and work environment. It ranked Colorado as the state with the seventh-highest well being in 2013, the first year recreational pot use was permitted. Washington was ranked ninth, while New Jersey was ranked 21st.”
Governor Christie is speaking out of ignorance and archaic out-of-touch rhetoric that is reminiscent of the dinosaur days of the War on Drugs. He is the last person who should be speaking about quality of life. New Jersey has some the highest priced homes that cost more than homes you can get 4 times the size and several thousands of dollars less in property taxes in Colorado. People are not wandering downtown Denver robbing people and assaulting them if they’ve used cannabis. Douglas County, where I live south of Denver, is a Republican stronghold, has the highest median household income of any Colorado county or statistical equivalent, and we’re doing just fine, thank you very much, Governor Christie.
According to Bloomberg News, New Jersey is bleeding otherwise tax paying citizens, virtually pushing them out with unrealistic financial expectations and that’s not exclusively because people are already leaving in droves to access cannabis – medicinal, recreational or otherwise:
“New Jersey lost almost 88,000 taxpayers with income of $5.5 billion to other states in 2010, according to a report by RegentAtlantic Capital LLC, a Morristown-based investment adviser, citing Internal Revenue Service data.
The so-called tax migration is rooted in New Jersey’s high property and estate levies, according to the report. The state has the highest property taxes in the U.S. and depends on personal income taxes for 39 percent of its revenue. The data reflect people who filed their 2009 federal tax return in New Jersey and in 2010 filed in other states.”
There definitely is a quality of life to be had in New Jersey. My husband and I really thought so when we bought our house in beautiful and artsy Collingswood, NJ in 2004. We fully intended to live there until our children aged out of secondary school and went off to college. However, after CPS came to our home 2 years ago because our son mentioned hemp in school, we hastened and made our way here to Colorado where we could help the movement in its continued mission to evolve these hard-earned freedoms of legal cannabis. We still miss our friends from back home, the neighborhood cats that we treated like our own pets, aging parents and siblings, and cousins for our babies to play with on family birthdays and holidays. But our quality of life has improved exponentially. We feel safer here, because though CO Governor Hickenlooper is not such a big fan of cannabis himself, we can rest easier here knowing I can medicate and my kids can talk about hemp at school without the threat of being torn away from us for a plant.