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Gary Johnson on Drugs

Former Republican NM Governor


Harm-reduction: health issue rather than criminal issue

Q: You say we should tax and legalize marijuana. How far would you go in legalizing drugs?

A: As governor of New Mexico, everything was a cost-benefit analysis. Using that as a criteria: half of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts, and the prisons is drug-related. And to what end? We're arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country. We now have 2.3 million people behind bars. We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. If people look at it, they'll see that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition-related, not use-related. That's not to discount the problems with use and abuse, but that ought to be the focus. I advocate legalizing marijuana: control it; regulate it; and tax it. It'll never be legal for kids t smoke pot or buy pot; It'll never be legal to do harm while smoking pot. When it comes to all other drugs, I advocate harm-reduction strategies, which is looking at the drug problem first as a health issue rather than as a criminal justice issue.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

Drug policy today parallels Prohibition in the 1920's

The parallels between drug policy today and Prohibition in the 1920's are obvious, as are the lessons our nation learned. Prohibition was repealed because it made matters worse. Today, no one is trying to sell our kids bathtub gin in the schoolyard and micro-breweries aren't protecting their turf with machine guns. It's time to apply that thinking to marijuana. By making it a legal, regulated product, availability can be restricted, under-age use curtailed, enforcement/court/incarceration costs reduced and the profit removed from a massive underground and criminal economy.

By managing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco--regulating, taxing and enforcing its lawful use--America will be better off. Alcohol Prohibition (1920-1933) had only a minimal effect on the desire of Americans to drink but pushing alcohol underground had other effects: overdose deaths, gang violence, and other prohibition-related harms increased dramatically during the Prohibition years.

Source: Campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com, "Issues" , May 2, 2011

War on Drugs is a miserable failure; $6M for treatment

California and Arizona have gone the furthest in decriminalizing non-violent drug use, raising the issue’s profile natioannaly and spurring about 10 other states this year to consider a similar philosophical shift. Arguing that the multibillion-dollar drug war has been a failure, legislatures in New York, Hawaii, Arkansas, and elsewhere are considering revisions to mandatory sentence laws for low-level drug offenders and may provide millions of dollars to drug diversion programs.

Last month, the New Mexico legislature approved five drug bills proposed by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, an ardent supporter of decriminalizing drugs. Included in the package are measures that will allocate $6 million to expand treatment services, legal protections for syringe sales, and restoring voting rights for felons who have served their time. “The war on drugs is a miserable failure,” Johnson said. “50% of the money for prisons and courts is spent on drugs. What we’re doing isn’t working.”

Source: V. Dion Haynes, Chicago Tribune, p. 6 , Apr 9, 2001

More federal funding for all aspects of Drug War.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA policy HR-13: Combating and Controlling Substance Abuse 00-NGA2 on Aug 15, 2000

States should make drug policy, not feds.

Johnson co-sponsored the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. Western Governors agree that states, not the federal government, are in the best position to understand the myriad of drug related issues facing their citizens and to initiate and implement drug policy strategies that will combat the substance abuse problems facing their communities.
  2. Western Governors support effective law enforcement initiatives and behavioral accountability. Partnerships between enforcement and treatment programs (or efforts) need to be strengthened and supported to enable behavioral changes.
  3. Western Governors recognize the escalating costs of incarceration and welcome effective common sense options within the criminal justice system that result in lessened drug abuse, healthier communities, and decreased criminal activity.
  4. Western Governors appreciate the unique problems confronting our communities from increased production, distribution and abuse of methamphetamines. The Governors will continue to attack this problem aggressively on several fronts, including enforcement of current criminal laws and expansion of treatment and intervention programs.
  5. Western Governors support sentencing laws that retain individual accountability for criminal conduct while administering proportional punishments that are fair and just.
  6. Western Governors support efforts to staunch the proliferation of illegal intravenous drug use. Common sense strategies aimed at protecting communities against discarded and potentially contaminated injection drug paraphernalia should be explored. Furthermore, the Governors encourage reform initiatives that will help and encourage injection drug users to obtain information, treatment, detoxification and social services.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 05: Drug Policy Summit 01-WGA05 on Aug 14, 2001

Other governors on Drugs: Gary Johnson on other issues:
NM Gubernatorial:
Susana Martinez
NM Senatorial:
Tom Udall

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Contact info:
Campaign website:
www.garyjohnson2012.com
Mailing Address:
731 E South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT, 84110
Phone:
801-303-7922
Press Inquiries:
media@garyjohnson2012.com,
Web contact in lieu of EMail

Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011