Gary Johnson, The GOP, and The Marijuana Matter

When I interviewed former New Mexico governor and likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate Gary Johnson for a forthcoming Reason magazine feature on California's failed pot-legalizing Proposition 19--Johnson toured the state frequently in support of it--he told me he found even among the traditional Christian Republican middle a lot of keen interest in and little fear of his very public support for legalizing the weed.

Johnson toured Florida this week, and the St. Petersburg Times reported this, which I fear may be more reflective of how the pot issue will play with Republican primary voters:

When told of Johnson's position on legalizing marijuana, Republican Party of Florida chairman John Thrasher, a St. Augustine senator, gave a skeptical "Oh, boy'' as a response. Thrasher sounded more enthusiastic about the fact that Johnson was in the state in the first place.

"The presidential campaign has already begun," Thrasher said. "There are people running for president and they're coming here because Florida's going to play a big role."

Reason has covered Johnson extensively.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Binky||

    Thrasher, a St. Augustine senator, gave a skeptical "Oh, boy"

    Well, Thrasher is ten years older than Johnson.

  • ||

    Made up quote: "Florida is full of aging retirees who don't know the difference between a doobie and a blunt, therefore we must keep marijuana illegal for everyone."

  • ||

    Don't forget all the Canadians! They're the Canadians who hate weed and moved to Florida to avoid it!

  • Son of a Gun||

    My cop parents and sibling are all for legalization of marijuana. They think busting people for pot is pretty much a waste of their time.

    I really have no idea where the opposition to legalization comes from other than the growers, feds, and local prosecutors. I can't think of one person I know that thinks pot should be illegal regardless of their political affiliation.

    Is it parents concerned about their children? I don't think I'd care if my kid smoked pot, but in any case I'd much rather she get pot from a store than from some shady guy who also wants to sell her crack and sleep with her.

  • ||

    "Is it parents concerned about their children?"

    Yes.

    Regardless of YOU not knowing anybody who favors prohibition, the fact remains that a majority of California voters favored it. The existence of a large portion of the country who is still uncomfortable with legalization is an unfortunate political reality. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Demographically, the generation currently under the age of 30 tends to support legalization. This doesn't appear to be just an effect of their age either since the majority of Gen Xers did not support legalization at the same age. Based on demographics alone, I think legalization will happen within the next five to ten years (and gay marriage too).

  • PabloKoh||

    Parents of 30-40 year old children.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Ditto here. My father is a probation officer (retired now) and he hated the fact that drugs were illegal (especially pot). He said most of the local cops were against prohibition too.

    He hated having to send someone back to prison because they failed a drug test, even if they had pretty much turned their life around. But there was no leeway for him because of the WoD sentencing laws.

  • SIV||

    Johnson's non-nuanced blanket support of abortion on demand is going to kill him with the GOP base. The marijuana issue is negligible in comparison.

  • MNG||

    Yup, the GOP base loves them some fetuses. The pro-lifers have vowed that a pro-choicer can't even be Veep on the ticket, much less Prez.

    But didn't he support the partial birth abortion ban and opposed Medicaid funded abortions? I guess by "non-nuanced" view on abortion you meant "non-Religious Right."

  • Almanian||

    I don't know about the GOP, but I know I love me some fetuses. I'll take mine fried, with a bit of garlic and onion....mmmmmmm, tasty!

  • Robert||

    Come to think of it, with all the eating I've done, I don't think I've ever had fetal meat. Eggs, sure, and baby or immature meat too, but not fetuses that I'm aware of. They'd probably be very tender but too expensive to harvest.

    Plant fetuses, sure, in the form of nuts & grains.

  • ||

    If he in fact supports no federal funding for abortion and a partial birth abortion ban, he will not have a problem, especially not in a year like 2012. If he supports infanitide (which is what partial birth abortion is) and taking other people's money to pay for it, then fuck him he doesn't derserve the nomination.

  • SIV||

    +∞

    I fear Johnson, as in the pulled Reason post illustrating his political ineptitude,can't convey a "pro-life message" necessary to have any hope of securing the nomination.

    Even Sarah Palin could portray herself as solidly pro-life w/o lifting a finger as governor to restrict abortion in Alaska . It ain't that hard. Let's see if Gary knows how to play.

  • ||

    And if the Republicans "love them some fetuses" is it then safe to say Democrats hate them?

  • Justin Cases||

    Shush John, you are interrupting the echo chamber that all Republicans are wholly anti-abortion, pot hating, corporation loving, religious freaks perpetuated by the Left, and the libertarians (when it suits them).

  • susan28||

    They say hate is not the opposite of love; indifference is. i'm indifferent toward 'em. but then imma libertarian, hehe..

  • ||

    And the Democrat base won't let pro-lifers speak at their conventions, much less let them be Veep. So?

  • Robert||

    I think it's a fair bet Obama will run for and be considered a shoo-in for renomination by the Democrats. So won't voters who usually are Democrats or at least vote Democratic have a larger-than-usual participation in Republican primaries and caucuses for president in 2012? That being the case, do you think they'd vote to nominate a pro-abortions Republican, or do you think they'd vote strategically to stick the Republicans with a presidential nominee whose views are less likely to gain support in the general election?

  • MlR||

    than from some shady guy who also wants to sell her crack and sleep with her."

    I resent that remark.

  • ||

    Prince Andrew reacted with almost neuralgic patriotism whenever any comparison between the United States and United Kingdom came up. For example, one British businessman noted that despite the "overwhelming might of the American economy compared to ours" the amount of American and British investment in Kyrgyzstan was similar. Snapped the Duke: "No surprise there. The Americans don't understand geography. Never have. In the U.K., we have the best geography teachers in the world!"

    LOL LOL LOL @ brit fitting the stereotype

  • Joe M||

    Ron Paul also wants to legalize marijuana, yet that didn't seem to come up much in the GOP primary debates. I guess they were too busy attacking him for being on the side of the terrorists.

  • Some other guy||

    Threadjack:
    Another trailer + stills for Game of Thrones

  • ||

    Man, I really hope they do this right. It's going to be hard, but it is HBO.

  • Warty||

    I'll wait for the Wheel of Time series. WILL THEY FIND THE WEATHER-BOWL THIS SEASON???

  • Some other guy||

    some Wheel of Time Metal for you, Warty.

  • Warty||

    Not nearly long enough.

  • Some other guy||

    oh, and the weather bowl hasn't been an issue since book 8.

  • Warty||

    Sometimes I think that I'll finish the series now that it's finally done. Then I come back to my senses and do something much less painful, like punch myself in the balls. Robert Jordan should have just stuck with the Conan books.

  • ||

    You are a masochist of the highest order. I got up to about book 5 or 6 and and finally came to my senses, though I had been internally going WTF?!? since book 4.

  • An Annoying Pedant||

    Jordon died in 2007 and Brandon Sanderson took over the series. Towers of Midnight is actually one of my favorite in the series. For the record, the absolute last book won't be out until 2012.

  • ||

    Tara is right. A majority of people don't support legalization. The big shift is that people like Johnson and Paul can support it without being immediately dismissed as nuts. Being for legalization is becoming an acceptable if minority position. That is an enormous shift.

  • nekoxgirl||

  • Atanarjuat||

    I doubt he'll get much press, even with positions such as this one, with Sarah Palin in the race.

  • ||

    I don't think Johnson can win in 2012. Maybe in 2016 or 2020, though.

  • SIV||

    Johnson should aspire to be Palin's VEEP
    That'll get the cosmos on board.

    /troll

  • Eisenhower||

    Florida is certainly an important state, but Johnson has virtually no shot in winning it. The Florida Republican Primary is dominated by Military Types, the Religious Right, and Bush/McCain style moderates, Gary Johnson won't appeal to any of these groups.

    The states that Johnson should focus on building a political infrastructure in are: New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico(his home state), and I would also suggest Indiana (home of Mitch Daniels), Kentucky (Tea Party Favorite Rand Paul), and New Jersey (Fiscal Conservative/social moderate Chris Christie). He won't win the nomination, but atleast he can show that the liberty wing of the party is a force not to be ignored. And if he can win support from guys like Christie and Daniels,(in the event neither of them run), than a Johnson run will be even sweeter.

  • Mike in PA||

    Funny, it seemed Marco Rubio did alright in that state's primary. He didn't appear to be a military/religious right/moderate to me. In fact, I would venture to say that because of Rubio on the ticket, they also retained the governorship.

  • Eisenhower||

    Gary Johnson is a Pro-Choice Social Libertarian who agree with Ron Paul on civil liberties, and opposes the Drug War. Does Marco Rubio oppose the Drug War? Is Pro-choice? Gary Johnson is a libertarian Republican is Marco Rubio a libertarian Republican? Or is a Conservative Republican who appealed to the Conservative base of the party by opposing stimulus, and the Moderate Charlie Crist? Marco Rubio is protege of Jeb Bush and Bush was no libertarian.

  • ola||

    "Fiscal Conservative/social moderate Chris Christie"

    Please provide more than one example regarding the social moderate part.

  • Eisenhower||

    "Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime," Christie told more than 60 residents and town officials. "The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime."

    Being undocumented may be a civil wrong, but it's not a criminal act, Christie said.

    "Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. Attorney's Office should be doing something about," he added of entering the country illegally. "It is not." "
    http://www.nj.com/news/index.s.....cates.html

    A very far cry from the illegal immigration is a crime crowd that dominates the base of the party.

    "Abortion: Christie is personally against abortion: "I am pro-life. Hearing the strong heartbeat of my unborn daughter 14 years ago at 13 weeks gestation had a profound effect on me and my beliefs."[44] He has stated, with respect to his opposition to abortion, that he would not use the governor's office to "force that down people's throats", but does favor restrictions on abortion such as banning partial-birth abortion, requiring parental notification, and imposing a 24-hour waiting period.[45] Christie's lieutenant governor, Kimberly Guadagno, is, however, pro-choice."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C....._on_issues

    That along with his support of civil unions, but opposition to gay marriage, puts him pretty much puts him on the more moderate conservative end of the GOP. He's similar to Giuliani, a tough a fiscal conservative, who takes socially moderate positions to appeal in a blue state. And that's Gary Johson's common ground with Christie. Johnson was a tough Fiscal Conservative who shrunk the size of government in a fairly blue state. There both seen as outsiders, and Johnson can play on this label.

    Christie represents the type of Modrate Conservative that Johnson has to appeal to in the primaries. Because, Johnson is certainly not gonna pull a Mitt Romney and start flip flopping on the social issues. So his best approach would be to run as:

    An anti-establishment fiscal conservative who can appeal to both the Tea Partiers, (with a little help from Rand Paul, Mike Lee and maybe Justin Amash), and Moderate Conservatives like Christie. That's his best shot.

  • Wesley||

    I went to a Gary Johnson speech in Houston, and his problem wouldn't be his personal support for marijuana legalization, it would be the NORML crowd that it attracts. During his question-and-answer session, the first question was what he would do as President to end the drug war. Answer: Not much. Focus on other bigger problems with law enforcement and respect state sovereignty on drug laws.
    Honestly, none of that would be offensive to even a pretty socially conservative Republican voter if the economy stays bad. The problem was that the NORML crowd then dominated the rest of the session, asking for predictions about how much money could be made from legalization, how to legalize hard drugs, why he wanted to legalize sweatshops for pre-teens (you know, because he's a libertarian), why he couldn't admit that the free market was a failed idea, and whether he would release the Roswell files. It was really a hindrance to him getting a sensible message out.

  • Wesley||

    I should add that Governor Johnson has a great plan for immigration reform that includes a new guest worker visa that does not allow for the worker to receive any Federal welfare, a grace period to get the visa, and increased enforcement at the workplace.

  • h4x354x0r||

    Interesting point on the NORML crowd. I think the gig is up for them though. After the failure of Prop 19, all the potheads are finally waking up and realizing that if the drug was has been a massive, 40-year policy failure, NORML has been riding alongside the whole time, feeding off the afflicted, and is just as big a failure.

    Heck, I'm a flaming liberal and I would seriously consider voting for Johnson. Not on a Palin ticket though ;-)

  • h4x354x0r||

    Oops: "...drug was has..." = "...drug war has..." Too, many, commas, in, there, too. :-/

  • ||

    The War on Drugs has epically failed. We spend more money on locking people up over rather than educating our children. Amsterdam has pro-marijuana laws and a lot less crime (even when comparing population percentages). The whole Drug War is a joke and I'm amazed at the posters that don't have a clue. They have been socialized to believe exactly what major corporations want so they can continue to make money off of it. Alcohol & Big Pharma kill more people per year. I'm turning more and more libertarian by the day. Republicans = Democrats and you people are fools. Legalize pot!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement