PRINCETON — Gov. Chris Christie put to rest any doubt he will change his mind on legalizing marijuana in New Jersey before he leaves office during a speech on Monday.

Speaking to the New Jersey Hospital Association, Christie repeated his assertion that marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs and addiction in a video of the speech posted by NJ.com and predicted that it will be "priority number one" if a Democrat is elected to succeed him in November.

"People like Nick Scutari and Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn't matter because people can buy it illegally anyway. Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis. Let's legalize cocaine. Let's legalize angel dust. Let's legalize all of it. What's the difference? Let everybody choose," Christie said in the speech.

Scutari told NJ.com that he will introduce legislation in January that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey.

Scutari and Sweeney took a trip to Colorado in 2016 and praised the legalization of recreational marijuana there and it's potential for bringing in tax revenue. Christie called revenue from the legalization of marijuana "blood money" during the November edition of "Ask the Governor."

"I have watched too many kids start their addiction with alcohol and marijuana and then move on to much more serious drugs. Every study shows that marijuana is a gateway drug and every study shows that marijuana causes damage,” Christie said.

Christie repeated that claim in his speech on Monday, blaming "crazy liberals who want to say everything's okay."

During a town hall campaign event last October in Rutherford, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy said he supports its legalization, according to NorthJersey.com, but does not mention his support on his campaign website. Opponents Sen. Ray Lesniak, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Jim Johnson all favor legalization as well.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Jospeh Rullo and Hirsh Singh are also supporters while Steven Rogers opposes its legalization Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Jack Ciattarelli has not commented about it since announcing their respective candidacies.

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