A week before the Election I had occasion to be on the hot Fox Business show Money Rocks, hosted by Eric Bolling. Also on the panel was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. In the brief discussion Johnson impressed me deeply. A Libertarian Republican in the Ron Paul tradition, Johnson is an outspoken and articulate critic of our failed war on drugs and a proponent of legalizing Marijuana.
The topic on the show was gang violence and kidnapping on the Mexican Boarder but Johnson turned that deftly to a discussion of how drug legalization would end Mexican gang violence. It was a tour de force.
There is high demand, It's a huge cash crop and it's not going away. Johnson makes a strong case that it's dangerous only it is because it is illegal. People are forced to go to drug dealers and it funds gangs and terrorists. The government continues to spend $70 billion a year on the most failed policy in U.S. history.
Johnson points out marijuana is considerably less hazardous than alcohol, and even arguably less a public health risk than sugar and processed foods given the national expensive epidemic of diabetes and heart disease. Marijuana is easily grown virtually anywhere and despite billions spent to stem its use, it is as easy to acquire today as it was before the war against it was launched. Marijuana is easier than cigarettes for children to acquire, specifically because it is peddled by drug dealers as opposed to licensed and monitored providers.
The war on marijuana is costly, makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and costs resources better spent on other efforts.
New York wastes a whopping $390 million a year on marijuana arrests-- a simple non-violent crime . Nationally more people are arrested for marijuana than all violent crimes combined. Johnson is unapologetically in favor of all out legalization and also also sites the massive financial boon that legalization and taxation would provide.
With America in the worst financial crisis of our lifetime and the advantages of legalizing and taxing it ? Johnson says legalization would permit the government to re-assign highly trained people to go combat more serious problems. Governments at the State and federal level could realize billions in revenues.
A 2012 Presidential candidacy by Johnson would lead to a needed public dialog on the failed war on drugs. Prop 19 failed only because of the gross lies told about marijuana use by police groups, Senator Diane Feinstein and , get this, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyone who has seen "Pumping Iron" remembers Arnold puffing on a joint between heavy sets. Do as I say, not as I do, Ahhnold ?
This is not to say Johnson is a one dimensional candidate and their will be plenty of opposition to ending the prohibition of Marijuana in the Republican Party, but a Johnson candidacy would find a constituency in the early primary states, particularly "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire and would spark a national discussion that must be had.
Sarah Palin won't run ( you heard it here first!). The race is wide open. Run, Gary Run.