Special Election Edition: Johnson’s Stance on the Legalization of Marijuana


Gary Johnson

Blaise Desnoes

One key component of Johnson and Weld’s platform is their effort to end the War on Drugs. As their platform notes, they would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to make their own decision about legalizing recreational and medical marijuana (much like they do with alcohol). This policy is simply common sense. With states already passing legislation in support of decriminalized marijuana, the federal government should give the states authority to make their own choices. This policy has a variety of positive effects, including the ability to test the substance, which can aid in understanding its effects and lead states and voters toward more informed decisions. Legalization of marijuana should be a state issue, and the ballot initiatives that many will have on their ballots this year already reflect that. 

In many ways, Johnson notes, that the War on Drugs has been a waste of money, time and lives. It has directly created over-crowded prisons filled with nonviolent offenders, a dangerous black market filled with unsafe drugs and the loss of billions of taxpayer dollars. The War on Drugs has done all of these things without ever addressing the root of drug abuse.

While Johnson and Weld may not support the legalization of other illegal recreational drugs, they openly state that drug rehabilitation programs are more effective than locking up recreational users. It is notable that (according to the ACLU), 52 percent of all drug arrests in the United States were for marijuana. While one may initially think that this is because of violent crimes associated with drug use or large quantities of drugs used, this is simply not supported by facts. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent were for possession (ACLU).

As a final note, this issue is about more than simply medical or recreational marijuana. The issue of ending the War on Drugs is a distinctly racial one. Depite the fact that white and black Americans tend to use marijuana at roughly equal rates, black Americans are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana (ACLU). We are jailing our own population at an unprecedented rate with an alarming amount of racial bias, and Johnson and Weld agree that it is simply unacceptable, immoral and unsustainable.