Every candidate has their passion project. Bernie Sanders wants to go to war on the wealthy. Donald Trump wants to keep people out of the country. Ted Cruz wants to repeal Obamacare. Hillary Clinton wants to pick up where Obama left off. Mike Huckabee abhors gay marriage.
When a candidate has aligned himself with the Libertarian Party, it seems safe to assume that their focal issue will be something about ending government overreach or having faith in the free market. But for former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson, it’s all about getting high.
Having ended 2015 by stepping down as the CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., Johnson was not shy about his position on the use of THC and how that issue will play into his campaign. Many candidates will quickly admit that the war on drugs isn’t working and needs to be done away with. Especially on the conservative side, there is the tendency to say the issue should be decided at the state level. But as the Libertarian Republic noted, Johnson’s position — that marijuana should be legalized at the federal level — is the most permissive of any current presidential candidate.
But don’t be confused. Johnson knows that being the “pro-pot” candidate isn’t likely to get him very far.
“Let me just put it at zero. When you go back four years ago when I was running for president on the Republican side, I made the statement that if everyone that smoked marijuana gave me a dollar, I’d have $150 million dollars in my coffer. None of that happened. It is a big zero when it comes to the ballot box. Is it the right thing to be advocating? Absolutely. But does it result in political benefits? I haven’t seen it.”
As The Atlantic emphasized, Johnson has no “illusions of grandeur.” He sees himself as holding positions that are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, what Johnson likes to call a “classic liberal.” He believes it’s a stance that no other candidates are taking, but one that resonates with a majority of the American public.
On the issue of marijuana legalization, as noted by High Times, Johnson believes that marijuana should be completely removed from the list of scheduled drugs used by the DEA as spelled out in the Controlled Substances Act. Fellow presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders signed legislation in November with the same goals.
But as Johnson likes to remind voters, he has “been the highest public official since 1999 to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.”
In a more general sense, however, Johnson is playing the important third party candidate role, in hopes that one day, the United States will evolve out of the two-party system it’s been consumed with for generations.
“Crony capitalism is alive and well. It’s Democrats and Republicans that contribute to that. I’d like to be that choice that is not going to succumb to that.”
In 2012, when Johnson ran as the Libertarian Party’s candidate against Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, he ended up with more than 1 million votes. However, as Leafly pointed out, that’s less than 1 percent of the popular vote.
If Johnson is named the official candidate of the Libertarian Party, he will know in less than a month exactly who the Republican and Democratic nominees will be. Despite holding economic views that are polar opposites, Governor Johnson and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders agree on many social issues, and they both resonate with voters who are tired of “establishment” politics and politicians. Bernie Sanders currently trails Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, while Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican race. According to one informal poll, the Libertarian candidates most likely to be an obstacle for Gary Johnson include businessman Steve Kerbel and Austin Petersen, who has spent time at Fox News.
[Image credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images]