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Looking for a Leader 

The cannabis inclinations of the presidential hopefuls

click to enlarge Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is the most weed-friendly of the presidential hopefuls.
  • Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is the most weed-friendly of the presidential hopefuls.

"We believe the two-party system is a dinosaur, and we are the comet." So said Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) forum on the website Reddit last week with running mate Bill Weld. The duo, both ex-governors and former Republicans, are polling at the highest numbers (19 percent in Idaho, according to a recent Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll) by a third-party ticket since Ross Perot's fabled run as an independent in 1992.

While his election ambitions might not (yet) be the self-prophesied death knell for traditional American politics, Johnson's occupation of the White House would certainly spell trouble for cannabis prohibition.

"I do believe that marijuana should be legalized, and I do believe California will legalize it in November, which will be a tipping point," said Johnson in the AMA. The perennial legalization advocate resigned in January from his position as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a publicly traded marijuana products company, to accept the Libertarian Party's nomination. If elected, he would authorize the removal of cannabis from the DEA's list of classified substances.

But as president, Johnson says he would not indulge. "The whole notion of inbound missiles. You got 12 minutes to deal with that," he explained in a recent episode of the New Yorker Radio Hour. "I've never advocated being on the job impaired." In fact, he admitted in another interview with the New Yorker that the last time he ingested cannabis was months ago, on a spring night out with his fiancé, via a few Cheeba Chews.

"You may disagree with everything I have to say," Johnson told his Reddit audience, "but you'll see it done in complete transparency and honesty."

His fellow candidates seem to prefer to walk a rhetorical tightrope. Donald Trump's position on the subject oscillates like a playground swing but usually falls to the left of the statements regarding cannabis in his party's official platform. His VP pick, Mike Pence, is a staunch prohibitionist. Hillary Clinton supports state legalization experiments, but selected in Tim Kaine a running mate who has said he would never vote to decriminalize marijuana at any level.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein shares Johnson's "hands off" perspective. She also has a warrant out for her arrest on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing for allegedly spray-painting construction equipment last week at a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. ♦

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