Once again, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has taken the lead over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the issue of marijuana reform. The former New Mexico governor has promised to end federal marijuana prohibition on day 1 in the Oval Office - if he's elected, of course.
Johnson revealed his plan last week on a FOX Business town hall hosted by John Stossel. During the chat, Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld took questions from viewers. One wanted to know exactly how he planned to legalize marijuana in America.
"Well, it's going to be a states issue," Johnson said. "But, first day in office, we de-schedule marijuana as a class one narcotic, which opens up...vast research and development that can go along with the marijuana industry. And also opens up banking in those states where it is legal."
So Johnson would not force states to legalize marijuana. He would let them decide the legality of marijuana by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Doing that would allow states to decide their own marijuana laws in the same way that they regulate the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
Johnson's position is essentially the same as former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who introduced a Senate Bill last November that would similarly remove marijuana from the CSA. But unlike Sanders, Johnson is setting an ambitious timetable for cannabis reform. No other candidate in the 2016 race has pledged to take action on the issue on day one.
Of course saying he'll make marijuana a top priority is one thing. Getting the power to do something about it is another. According to a poll results released yesterday by NBC News, Johnson would finish in third place (11 percent support) if the election were held right now. So his campaign is really fending off last-place candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party rather than challenging either frontrunner.
But Johnson's nearly hit the percentage needed to make the national debate on September 26. If he can hit 15 percent support, he'll have a chance to battle Clinton and Trump on the airwaves. And that could be a catalyst for growing his support. Check out this clip from the FOX Business town hall to see what Johnson would offer viewers on the national stage.
Banner Image: Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson smiles at a woman after a 2016 rally in New Hampshire. (Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com)