New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson continues his high-publicity campaign to end the failed drug war.
Johnson, who easily admits to using and enjoying both marijuana and cocaine when in college, is a second-term Republican Governor who cannot run for re-election. He is also America’s highest ranking elected official to propose the legalization of drugs.
In an interview in the January 2001 issue of Playboy, Johnson called the war on drugs “a mindboggling failure,” adding that “Holland is the only country in the world that has a rational drug policy.”
“If we legalized all drugs across the board, we would have a better situation than we have today,” explained Johnson, explaining that he didn’t advocate such total legalization, but thought it should be looked at.
Johnson has faced down criticism from Republicans, Democrats, police officials, District Attorneys, and others with a stake in the drug war. He has been called “Puff Daddy Johnson” by outgoing Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, and “an idiot” or “an embarrassment” in editorials and by members of his own party.
In January the Governor created eight drug reform bills for consideration by the State legislature. The bills include legislation to decriminalize possession of an ounce of pot, allow medical marijuana use, reduce all first and second drug-possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, abolish mandatory minimums for drug offenders, allow needle exchange, and eliminate seizure of property without conviction.
The bills reflect the recommendations of the Governor’s Drug Policy Advisory Group, chaired by retired state District Judge Woody Smith.
At a press conference, Smith said that when he was on the bench, “the policies we were enforcing were failures.?Nothing was getting better.?When I was appointed to this panel, I found out things were even worse than I thought. We’re spending up to $100 billion a year on a failed policy.”
The advisory group also recommended the state get rid of drug-education programs that are not scientifically based, like DARE.?”There have been decades of indoctrination that arrest and interdiction is the right way,” explained Smith.?”In a war, the first casualty is the truth.”
Johnson will be a featured speaker at the NORML 2001 Conference, April 19-21, in Washington DC.
? New Mexico gov’t website: state.nm.us/
? Mapinc stories about Gary Johnson: www.mapinc.org/johnson.htm