Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson Says Legalizing Marijuana Will Reduce Border Violence

Former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, said that ending cannabis prohibition will lead to a significant reduction in crime along America’s southern border.

Speaking to The Raw Story, Johnson, who served as governor of the border state from 1995 to 2003, called drug reform a public health issue more than a criminal justice issue.

“Right now, 75 percent of the cartels’ activities revolve around marijuana,” he said. “I think as a nation, when we legalize marijuana, we’re going to take giant steps toward drug reform, which will start off with looking at drugs as a public health issue, rather then a criminal justice issue. I just think legalizing marijuana [will cause] at least a 75 percent reduction in border violence due to the drugs [trade].”

Johnson, a longtime advocate of harm reduction initiatives, explained why he supports full legalization rather than just decriminalization:

“Since 1999, I’ve advocated legalizing marijuana,” he told Raw Story. “I have always shied away from decriminalizing, because I think that turns its back on half the problem, which is the marketplace for marijuana. You’ve got to make it legal to sell it, otherwise if you just make it legal to possess it and use it, you just shift law enforcement resources to arresting those who sell it, and that’s not going to be the answer.”

Johnson also stressed the need for reform advocates to continue raising awareness about the harm caused by the failed War on Drugs by being vocal:

“What’s the reason for 50 percent of Americans supporting legalizing marijuana?” he asked. “The reason is, people are talking about the issue. The more people talk about it, the better this issue does. It’s an issue of information, debate and discussion. But if you’re not debating and discussing it, it’s not going to happen.”

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