Could marijuana politics become a ‘front burner’ issue in Campaign 2012?
April 12, 2012
Gary Johnson, the likely Libertarian presidential nominee who served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, has thrown down the gauntlet to President Obama on federal medical marijuana policy.
In an April 10 blog entry on his web site, Johnson asks readers to help him debate the War on Drugs with Obama and Mitt Romney – and he accuses Barack Obama of lying to voters about his medical marijuana position when he sought the presidency in 2008.
Johnson points out that in Obama’s quest for the White House, he clearly stated he would not squander time and money on prosecuting medical marijuana providers in states that have already legalized cannabis as medicine. “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” Obama said four years ago. “It’s not a good use of our resources.”
Yet the Obama administration has continued expending federal resources doing just that, with most of the focus on prosecuting medical marijuana providers.
Johnson says he intends to put discussion about the legalization of marijuana on the “front burner” in the 2012 campaign.
His challenge to the president and likely Republican nominee comes just days after DEA and IRS agents raided Oaksterdam University in Oakland, seizing files and briefly detaining founder Richard Lee, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who uses cannabis to treat spastic muscles. Lee is concerned he may face federal drug charges.
Support for medical marijuana at 74 percent
The heavy-handed tactics by the federal government come at a time when half the country favors legalizing marijuana, and not just for medical use. In an October 2011 poll by Gallup, a record-high 50 percent of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana, and a Harris Interactive Poll in March of 2011 found 74 percent support for legalizing medical marijuana.
Johnson points out that not only has Obama failed to keep his promise on medical marijuana, he has failed to respond to citizens who took action on the issue: “President Obama also REJECTED a citizens’ petition to legalize marijuana as well as a citizens’ petition asking that marijuana be reclassified from a Schedule I drug, which is reserved for dangerous drugs, like heroin, with no medical value, to a Schedule II substance,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson is in the midst of a fundraising drive to help him raise his national profile. While Johnson polls quite well in a three-way race against Obama and Romney in New Mexico, where voters know him, he is less of a known quantity at the national level and is currently polling just 7 percent against the incumbent and the likely Republican nominee. He hopes to raise funds to change that by reaching out to those who support legalizing marijuana.
Why did Obama lie about medical marijuana?
“I can’t wait to ask Obama why he lied to us about medical marijuana in 2008 and why his Justice department is arresting and prosecuting people involved in the legal supplying of medical marijuana in states that allow it,” Johnson wrote. “I want to debate whether it makes sense to legalize marijuana and I’m ready to take on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on this issue, but I need your help.”
Johnson has acknowledged using medical cannabis while recovering from a paragliding accident in 2005.
Donate to Johnson’s campaign
The campaign has set up a special donation site, http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/marijuana, to help solicit at least $1 from each of the 50 million admitted marijuana smokers in the United States. To mail a check or money order, send your contribution to:
Gary Johnson 2012
P.O. Box 1985
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
On the donation page, Johnson states his position succinctly: “This debate isn't just about pot. It's about common sense. It's better to deal with drugs in the daylight as a health issue instead of leaving it in the dark where it breeds more crime and violence. Imagine a pot-friendly, fiscally savvy, open-minded President in the White House. If we all pitch in a little, it can happen.”
The Libertarian Party will hold its convention in Las Vegas the first weekend of May, with Johnson expected to win a first-ballot nomination. The threshold for appearing in presidential debates is 15 percent, and Johnson hopes to raise his profile so as to achieve that number and appear in the fall presidential debates against Obama and Romney. According to veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone, if Johnson can appear before a national television debate audience alongside Obama and Romney, “all bets are off” on the 2012 outcome.
In addition to his pro-legalization policies, Johnson has promised to submit a balanced budget to Congress in first year as president. He also supports gay marriage, Second Amendment rights and the repeal of the Patriot Act.
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SOURCES & RESOURCES:
Help me debate the war on drugs with Obama and Romney, www.garyjohnson2012.com
Can climbing Mt. Everest help prepare you for a presidential campaign? www.bearingdrift.com
Medical Marijuana dispensaries stay open despite federal deadline, SF Weekly, April 9, 2012
Agents in Oakland raid leader of medical marijuana movement, L.A. Times, April 2, 2012
Gary Johnson 2012: Letter from California, by Roger Stone at huffingtonpost.com
Researchers study neuroprotective properties of cannabis, www.foxnews.com, March 20, 2012
Additional sources linked to in text.