Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has sworn off marijuana in preparation for his 2016 bid for the White House. Johnson - a two-term New Mexico governor (1995-2003) and former CEO of the marijuana branding company Cannabis Sativa, Inc. - says he's giving up pot so that Americans can trust him to make the right decisions as commander-in-chief.
“As President, I will not indulge in anything,” Johnson told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. "I don’t think you want somebody answering the phone at two o’clock in the morning—that red phone—drunk, either. Better on the stoned side, but I don’t want to make that judgment.”
(Former President John F. Kennedy - who allegedly tried cannabis shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis - would probably agree.)
The decision must be hard for Johnson considering his cannabis anecdotes are part of his charm. Since he became the highest ranking U.S. official to support legalizing marijuana, Johnson has been candid about his own medicinal and recreational use. In 2010, he opened up about smoking pot to recover from a paragliding injury. That same year, he became whimsical when recalling times spent smoking pot for fun in his youth. "I never exhaled," he said, riffing on former President Bill Clinton's infamous denial.
But Johnson still vows to legalize marijuana as president. And he still enjoys bringing up cannabis on the campaign trail. In fact, he compares the unlikelihood of Libertarians winning the presidency to marijuana legalization, which also seemed farfetched not too long ago.
“It’s similar to the legalization of marijuana,” Johnson told The New Yorker. “For those who wanted to implement the death penalty for marijuana [like Newt Gingrich], they don’t go from death penalty to legalizing. They go from death penalty to ‘O.K., let’s forget about the death penalty.’ So you move the needle. And right now we’re moving the needle.”
By 'we' he means himself and running mate Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor who thinks that Johnson could become the next Abraham Lincoln, who helped the newly formed Republican Party destroy the old Whig Party in the 1850s.
"Weld compared the Republican Party, in its crisis over Trump’s nomination, to the Whig Party in its final years," Lizza wrote. "The Whig Party splintered in the mid-eighteen-fifties...and some former members drifted into the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party. Like Trump’s rallies...Know-Nothing rallies 'had a lot of violence, they fomented a lot of conspiracy theories about people trying to overthrow the United States. They were nativists, they were—they called it racialist then, not racist. But they were everything that Mr. Trump’s overtones are today. And they became very powerful for a few short years, and then they disappeared.' Weld hopes that, by creating a split among conservatives, the Libertarian ticket can make it more likely that the same thing will happen to Trump."
We might already be seeing that happen. According to Lizza, Jim Miller - a former spokesman for Jeb Bush - is considering giving his vote to Johnson. And Mitt Romney - the 2012 Republican candidate and leading voice among anti-Trump conservatives - told CNN in June that he was also considering Johnson as an option.
“If Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, it would be very easy for me to vote for Bill Weld for President,” Romney told Wolf Blitzer. “So I’ll get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he’s someone who I could end up voting for.”
Banner Image: Presidential candidate Gary Johnson. (Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com)