- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MANAHAWKIN, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie is reiterating his opposition to legalizing marijuana for recreational use and says tax revenue from the sale of the drug amounts to “blood money.”

Christie made the comments during a ribbon-cutting event at a drug treatment center in Manahawkin on Wednesday.

The governor said pot is a gateway drug that would never be legalized in the state on his watch. He said he’s not going put lives at risk to add money to the state’s coffers.

“I’ve had many taxpayers at town hall meetings who will ask me about ‘why not legalize marijuana to make the taxes go a little higher,’” Christie said. “To me, that’s blood money. I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers.”

Christie has made drug treatment one of his signature issues as he considers a run for the Republican nomination for president. He says that drug addiction is a disease and that abusers need treatment, not jail time.

The governor’s comments came as the Assembly prepares to vote on several measures that address the state’s medical marijuana program. One bill would expand the list of qualifying medical conditions to post-traumatic stress disorder; another would permit treatment centers to legally transfer excess marijuana between locations.

The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bills Thursday.

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