Gov. Chris Christie is getting some time on the ice with the New Jersey Devils. He’s not making a cameo on the team, but he is talking to about 150 students at Newark’s Prudential Center about the dangers of using illegal drugs. It’s part of an anti-opioid curriculum he signed by executive order earlier this year as a partnership between the New Jersey Devils and Reach NJ. Senior Correspondent David Cruz is there with the governor.
Cruz: The governor has agreed to give us a few minutes. So, this is about launching this curriculum targeting kids particularly.
Christie: It is, David. We know that we’re losing people at every age level to this disease, but we know that the best chance we have to get people to never start is to deal with kids and let them get educated. This isn’t just about saying “no”, this is about telling them why. I think kids today, more than ever, need to know why and that’s what this education program is all about.
Cruz: When we were kids, I don’t know if you remember, Officer Friendly but his was the same message and the results were mixed. what did you get out of this room? Did you get a sense that you were getting across to them?
Christie: I thought there were some pretty good questions, but you never know. Listen, I have four kids and I talk to them and sometimes I feel like I’m getting to them when I’m not and vice versa. So, I think it’s just about repetition, David. We have to keep doing it and keep trying because the alternative is unacceptable.
Cruz: You know, as you said it’s not necessarily kids who are the victims of overdoses particularly, it’s grownups, but the message here is to kids. You’re saying you’re going beyond “Just say no.” What are you saying to them?
Christie: Here’s what can happen to you if you use this stuff and then make your own decision. We want them to make the right decision, but if we just told them just “Just say no,” that’s not enough for a kid these days. They want to know why. How many times do kids ask you why when you tell them to do something. I know in my house it happens all the time, so we want to tell them why.
Cruz: There’s a lot of talk in New Jersey about marijuana legalization, that it is imminent. What’s that going to do to the efforts that you and others are undertaking?
Christie: Horribly destructive. I mean, the National Institutes of Health, not a partisan organization, David, has said that if you are using marijuana you’re two and a half times more likely to become addicted to opioids. To me that’s unacceptable. It’s absolutely unacceptable to legalize another drug when we’re in a fight against other legal drugs already. Why add to it? And this idea that we’re going to create revenue off of it, to me, and you’ve heard me say this before, that’s blood money and I wouldn’t be interested in it as governor. And I think those interested in it need to check their conscience.