Will Gary Johnson Move Obama on Marijuana?
Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico, announced his presidential candidacy today. Will his presence in the 2012 race have an impact on President Obama’s marijuana politics?
Johnson’s not your typical Republican candidate. As you’re bound to hear, the libertarian, an ally of Ron Paul’s, strays from traditional party politics by supporting gay civil unions, totally rejects Birther arguments, believes abortion should be a woman’s choice, doesn’t attend church (a big draw for GOP voters), and backs marijuana legalization.
More than just supporting legalization, though, Johnson admits to using weed both as a youth and more recently: between 2005 and 2007, after a paragliding accident, even though medical marijuana was at that point still illegal in New Mexico.
Said Johnson to The Weekly Standard journalist John McCormack, “Rather than using painkillers, which I have used on occasion before, I did smoke pot, as a result of having broken my back, blowing out both of my knees, breaking ribs, really taking about three years to recover.”
Considering Johnson’s candor on cannabis, it’s hard to imagine his presence in the race not having an impact on President Obama, who once claimed legalization was “worth a serious debate,” yet still backs Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice’s hardline against potential legislation.
“If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens,” Holder said of California’s failed ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, which he and his team promised to oppose.
In addition to this spotty track record, Obama also just put the kibosh on letting town hall participants vote on which questions he’ll be asked, because everyone kept asking about marijuana legalization, and apparently he doesn’t want to have to deal with weed.
While the President loves to claim he’s “evolving” on grass—just like he’s “evolving” on marriage equality—he hasn’t gone far enough to prove his commitment to an increasingly popular cause, and Johnson’s adamant politics may very well force Obama’s hand.