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Gary Johnson Calls Attention To Marijuana Prohibition

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gary johnsonLibertarian Party Candidate For President Calls Out Major Party Candidates Over Marijuana Stances

By Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry, Marijuana Policy Project

Gary Johnson, this year’s Libertarian Party candidate for president, spoke at a rally on Tuesday outside the Democratic National Convention. He criticized both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for avoiding one of the nation’s most important political issues. Obama has laughed off or ignored persistent questions about marijuana legalization, while Romney is equally dismissive, calling the issue insignificant.

During his two terms as governor of New Mexico, Johnson established himself as the highest-ranking public official to call for a dramatic shift in the nation’s drug laws. He explains that during his two terms, he applied a cost-benefit analysis to every issue. Regarding costs of the war on drugs, he has cited the United States’ world-record incarceration rate and the fact that approximately half of current criminal justice expenditures deal with drug cases.

On his campaign website, the former governor also refers to the harms of alcohol prohibition and the parallel harms of current drug prohibitions, including the enrichment of organized crime and the associated violence. The site clearly states his support for legalizing marijuana, specifying that the federal government should “end its prohibition mandate” and allow the states to determine their own policies. This is one area where he agrees with former Republican presidential contender and libertarian icon Ron Paul, to whom he has compared himself and whose supporters he may be courting. Although he does not explicitly call for legalization of other drugs, he does refer to drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice problem, making reference to the decriminalization which is in effect in Portugal and presenting it as a model for the U.S. to consider.

Johnson’s support in national polling remains quite low, and his name has often been omitted from the polls. It is likely that he will be excluded from the presidential debates, which does not bode will for his chances of ultimately winning the presidency. However, Johnson is the most prominent advocate of drug policy reform in the race and is expected to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Support of even 5% puts him at the top of the pack of third parties, as it dwarfs the best-ever presidential results for both the Libertarian Party itself and the Green Party, whose candidate Ralph Nader won 2.7% in the 2000 elections. His position in the race not only makes him a significant figure in the drug policy reform movement, but should work to raise public awareness of the issue and to improve the prospects for real reform.

Published with special permission from the Marijuana Policy Project

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9 Comments

  1. Thinking Clearly on

    Fear runs this election. The fear that the “other guy” will win. What happened to voting for the candidate you believe in because you feel he will do the best job?

    Hands down, Gary Johnson is the better candidate. He will legalize marijuana. He will do it now.

  2. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Apparently the government learned NOTHING from alcohol prohibition…

  3. Third parties have to spend most of the little money they have, just to get on state ballots. While republicans and democrats don’t have to spend a dime. Our election system is evil and corrupt.
    Personally, I think if you are for supporting and defending the constitution, you can’t in good conscience vote Dem or Rep.

  4. Since the republicans cheated Ron Paul out of the nominations I URGE EVERYONE TO VOTE JOHNSON. He probably won’t win, but think long term. 4-5 elections down the road, if we keep upping the libertarian percent, the candidate will win and we will see real change. Don’t listen to those who say you are throwing your vote away. Obama and Romney are both EVIL. Vote your heart and change will follow.

  5. “In the United States, drug arrests have tripled in the last 25 years, however most of these arrests have been for simple possession of low-level drugs. In 2005, nearly 43% of all drug arrests were for marijuana offenses. Marijuana possession arrests accounted for 79% of the growth in drug arrests in the 1990s. Nearly a half million people are in state or federal prisons or a local jail for a drug offense, compared to 41,000 in 1980. Most of these people have no history of violence or high-level drug selling activity” – page 4

    —Drug Policy, Criminal Justice and Mass Imprisonment, by Bryan Stevenson

  6. I fear for our country if we fall victim to either party winning Democrat or Republican. The self importance of belonging to something political is a pipedream. If every person would vote for Garyindependantly would the vote really be counted? I imagine his landslide win may bring about the next “Hanging Chad” fiasco. Bottom line is polity pity party is a joke. Gary J is our only hope for true reform and everybody is too busy saying Demo and Repub again this year because thats what we do in good ole USA…follow and look just like the other guys right? God help us all if Gary doesn’t get in. I know some people who may defect.

  7. Both Obama and Romney support the patriot act, NDAA and marijuana prohibition. Only Gary Johnson offers a real choice this election. Only Gary Johnson is both fiscally responsible and socially tolerant. Only Gary Johnson has both the executive experience and the integrity to finally end the insane, failed war on marijuana users.

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