Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has made waves before, and is doing so again with his campaign for the 2012 Republican Nomination for President of The United States. A strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, personal freedom,and marijuana legalization, Governor Johnson is a rising star in the GOP ranks. If you’re searching for someone to vote for in 2012, Gary Johnson deserves a look.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Governor Johnson recently about where he sees himself within the Republican Party, why he smoked cannabis after a horrific accident, and why he’s running for President.

The 420 Times: So you must be really shaking it up or making Republicans sort of shake in their boots with your positions.

Gary Johnson: You know I’m actually believing that maybe I speak on behalf of the majority of Republicans. But if you don’t give republicans that check off, why Republicans are going to check out the name that, for the rest of, to represent them in front of the rest of the world and maybe it’s not, you know, maybe it has more to do with the prior selection then the one that’s available right now. So anyway I’m putting that to the test.

420: Is your candidacy sort of not reflecting that but instead being way out in front on these issues where people are going?

Gary: Well or maybe that the party itself is tipped. So back to- I think I might be speaking on behalf of the majority of republicans, that would not be speaking on behalf of any of the politicians in the party at the moment. But, you know, politicians usually play the game of catch-up as opposed to leading which I think they’re supposed to actually do the later, aren’t they elected to lead? That’s the way I’ve always felt about it.

420: We did an interview with Andrew Sullivan a couple months ago who’s sort of along the same lines as you and he was talking about being out in front of an issue and really marijuana legalization was more republican then anything of government less in your life type thing.

Gary: Yeah, I’m opposed to the drug war, but if you just take it from the money standpoint from all the resources that we’re spending, to me that’s really very, very conservative and ought to appeal to conservatives.

420: How did you decide to run for president? What was the tipping point for you?

Gary: Well, you know, I arrived at this from the standpoint that first off I think that I could- well I think the country is bankrupt and I think it needs to be fixed and I really think that I can fix it and I really think that I can do a good job being president and that means that I think that I have a resume that qualifies me to be able to do this. And then on a personal standpoint I really do believe that this is one of life’s great adventures and I get to take part in it. And so personally it’s kind of blood boiling.

420: How would you like people today to choose a president, you know? What should they be looking for?

Gary: Well what I’m offering up is, and I hope, we’ll see how it plays out, but what I’m hoping for is that people would actually, people might say, “Oh Gary Johnson? Well there’s no way that that guy gets elected but I sure like him because he talks about the truth and all the different issues. He’s the only one that’s telling the truth.” And that’s what I would love to see happen.

I guess what I’d like to see happen would be all candidates talk about the truth; everybody would talk about the truth and then we wouldn’t have the problems that we have if that were the case.

420: Yeah sometimes when people talk about the truth and debt and everything else it seems to be kind of a turn off for them to have an adult conversation.

Gary: Yeah, yeah, and I’m in the camp, Dave. I’m in the camp to believe we’re on the verge of a financial collapse and it’s in the numbers. There’s just no avoiding the fact that we cannot repay $14 trillion dollars in debt when we’re racking up a trillion six hundred billion dollar deficit this year and last year and the year before and the years going forward. Hey, that’s no signal to the markets that we’re going to correct this. That’s a signal that we ought to dump all the bonds, all the government bonds we own and not buy anymore.

420: How would you like voters to get involved or just anybody who’s an American citizen to get involved this year leading up to 2012? Is there anything they should be doing or asking?

Gary: Well I believe that there is an awareness right now in this country that has never existed before in my lifetime and I think that’s the case. Now how does that relate to this coming cycle, the cycle that we’re in? I don’t know. We’ll see. But I do believe that people have really had it with politics as usual.

I just think right now people really want to hear the truth and want to really address these issues. These are real.

420: So are you saying you would ask voters to ask questions and demand honest answers out of politicians?

Gary: Yeah, you know, I don’t know how this activism plays out but I have a sense that it will play out; a kind of sense that this will be the most active electorate that we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

420: You know I know you had an accident or what have you and you started using medical marijuana for some sort of pain. How out of the ordinary is this for somebody to do that? Do you find that that’s becoming much more common?

Gary: Well, you know, I can only speak to my own circumstance and I have smoked pot in my life so I know, I believe I understand marijuana having used it as much as I have.

And so when I found myself, I really, really hurt myself; really hurt myself. I was looking at lying on the floor for six straight weeks not to get off the floor only to actually eat on the floor. And the only way that I got up was to go to the bathroom; that was the only time that I was supposed to get up.

And I have had a fairly recent experience having broken my back prior to this. In ’99 I broke my back and I used pain killers for about three weeks and it took me, I felt like it took me two months to get off of the pain killers. And by get off, the constipation that was associated with that, the insomnia that went along with that; I couldn’t sleep. And it made me realize that people that use these kinds of prescription pain meds, they use them their entire lives, it has to cut their lives short, it has to. It’s not healthy. And I found that using pain medication kind of masked one pain for another; it just traded the sensation of pain for something that was not right either, it wasn’t right.

So my paragliding accident, I found myself on the floor and I found myself taking pain medication and I have a friend coming over and here’s the diagnosis, here’s what I have to do. “Gary, would you like me to see if I can get you some marijuana?” And, “Yes, that would be great. That would be great. I think that would help me out considerably.” And it did.

As I’m lying there on the floor. And I don’t want to be, I don’t want to say that it was pain but it’s also this notion that I’m on the floor for weeks. I’m on the floor for weeks and how do you deal with that? And I just thought that marijuana really helped me deal with all of that. And then back to no pain- you know I never took any pain medication after that and the whole notion of- it took me three years to recover from that accident. I mean doctors were saying that this was it for me as far as an active lifestyle. And I’m as active as I’ve ever been today. So I feel myself to be fully recovered. I can’t stand in one position for hours on end without having an effect on my vertebrae on my spine but other than that I’m pretty okay.

420: Recently, the governor of Washington and the other day the governor of Arizona recently got some letters from the Department of Justice basically telling them not to go forward on what their state was planning for marijuana and medical marijuana. I don’t know if you saw that in the news. It was kind of a threatening letter from the Department of Justice. You know you’re a former governor of a fairly large state. How would you handle something like that?

Gary: Well I think that it’s wrong. It’s wrong that the federal government- but part of the reason I’m running for president. I really do believe in state’s rights. I do really believe in 50 laboratories of innovation, which are the 50 states. And if the states, by votes or by legislature, passes medical marijuana legislation, federal government get out of there; get out of there. And it isn’t just, it isn’t just marijuana; it’s education, it’s the delivery of healthcare. I mean it’s the federal government sticking its nose in all aspects of state government when these decisions are best made by the states and by local municipality.

420: Also, speaking of the news the other day, there’s a couple up in Oakland who were, from all points, a very medical marijuana couple and they recently were sentenced to do federal time for medical marijuana. Do you see any governors that will start granting clemency for some of these sort of injustices going on here?

Gary: Well probably not in the medical marijuana area because none of these governors support the notion of medical marijuana. And I shouldn’t say that, there are those that do. But, yes, that would be- that should be the tact that governors take given that their states passed the legislation or citizens voted the legislation in the first place. That ought to be an obvious course of action.

– interview by The 420 Times Editor-in-Chief Dave Brian