Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate, is already known as a supporter of cannabis legalization, and has said he smoked pot during his youth. “I never exhaled,” he joked recently. But now Johnson has admitted publicly for the first time that he smoked marijuana more recently — from 2005 to 2008 — for medicinal purposes.
“It’s not anything I volunteer, but you’re the only person that actually asked about it,” Johnson told reporter John McCormack of The Weekly Standard
. “But for luck, I guess, I wasn’t arrested,” said Johnson, who was Governor of New Mexico from 1994 to 2002.
Although marijuana was illegal for medical or any other purposes in New Mexico until 2007, Johnson said he needed cannabis after a 2005 paragliding accident in Hawaii. His sails got snared in a tree, and Johnson fell about 50 feet to the ground, he said, suffering multiple bone fractures.
“In my human experience, it’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Johnson said.
“Rather than using painkillers, which I have used on occasion before, I did smoke pot,” Johnson said, “as a result of having broken my back, blowing out both of my knees, breaking ribs, really taking about three years to recover.”
Johnson explained that pharmaceutical painkillers had once caused him to suffer “nasty side effecgts” and the pain of withdrawing from the pills was unbearable.
So, Johnson said, in 2005 “someone” who cared for him gave him marijuana to deal with the pain.
In the past, Johnson has claimed he doesn’t smoke marijuana anymore because it is “a handicap,” reports Matthew Reichbach at The New Mexico Independent
“I don’t smoke marijuana anymore,” Johnson told Reason
magazine almost 10 years ago, well before the time he says he began smoking pot again. “Marijuana is a handicap. So is alcohol.”
Although the former Governor’s views on the legalization of marijuana may seem out of step with the GOP, “…marijuana legalization may, in fact, be a much easier sell to Republican primary voters than Johnson’s positions on national security, foreign policy, and social policy,” suggests The Weekly Standard.
For example, he supports big defense cuts. Pointing out that the U.S. accounts for half the defense spending worldwide, Johnson suggests the defense budget might need to be slashed by as much as 44 to 90 percent from current levels.
His positions on social issues, including, for example, a belief that abortion should be legal in most cases, could also limit his appeal to conservatives in the Republican primaries.