(Page 2 of 6)
Reason: Aren’t there times when being "slowed down" can be both appropriate and fun—like when you’re watching a Cheech & Chong movie or Austin Powers?
Johnson: It is a handicap because you are not being as productive as you could be. I’m speaking for myself, but why are you watching Cheech & Chong in the first place? Why aren’t you out riding a bicycle? Why aren’t you reading a book? It’s much harder to concentrate on a book after having smoked marijuana.
Reason: If it was a handicap, why did you keep doing it?
Johnson: Because it was fun. At the time I was doing it, it was not a handicap. I only came to that conclusion later. There was one particular incident where it really hit home. That’s when I quit being a chronic marijuana smoker.
I was out of college and pursuing a career as a professional skier. I remember setting up gates one morning at the Schweitzer ski basin in Idaho and running through the gates and checking my times. My first run was 16 seconds. My next run was 15.25 seconds. I went down again, this time in 14.5 seconds. On the lift back up the mountain, I was riding with a ski patroller who pulled out a joint. We got high and then got to the top of the course. I really smoked the next run—I figured I went through that course faster than ever before! You know what I mean. This was going to be a 13, I was thinking. Yet it took me 18 seconds. I had thought I was that much faster but I was that much slower. It was just one of those big gongs going off in your head: Wow, this is not what I thought it was. Wait a minute!
Reason: But was that run fun?
Johnson: Oh yeah. But was it faster? You’ve got to remember what my goal was. My goal was to be a professional racer.
Reason: You’ve obviously been a big success. How about your buddies that you smoked pot with in high school and college? Have most of them been successful?
Reason: Gone on to sort of normal lives.…
Johnson: Every one of ’em. (Laughs.)
Reason: No one in jail?
Johnson: I do have acquaintances, like we all do, who have overdosed and others who aren’t successful. But my core group, my real close buddies, have all grown up to be successful men and women.
Reason: You’ve said that it’s an absolute political taboo for a presidential candidate today to talk about legalizing marijuana. If, as you say, 75 percent of people don’t think it should be criminal, why is it such a taboo topic?
Johnson: I don’t have the answer. When you ask people, "How many in this room believe that smoking marijuana within the confines of your own home, doing no harm to anybody except arguably yourself, how many think someone belongs in jail for that?," 90 percent of the room raises their hand to say no, people shouldn’t go to jail for that.