GOP Candidate Johnson: End Drug War, Cut Military Spend

By Will Godfrey 08/30/11

Gary Johnson tells The Fix that both violence and stretched budgets will be reduced by his policy of legalizing marijuana.

Fiscal conservative for marijuana Photo via

Former Governor of New Mexico and Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson told The Fix today that he links his policy of ending the War on Drugs to what he regards as essential military cuts. He believes that "legalizing marijuana will lead to 75% less border violence in Mexico," adding, "If we can't connect the dots between drug prohibition and violence now, when will we?" The US military has become increasingly involved in Mexican operations. When we asked whether ending the War on Drugs would help reduce military spending, he replied emphatically: "Yes! [Reducing] military spend will be aided by the notion of getting out of the drug war." The candidate outlined plans to cut military budgets by 43%—stating, "The biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we're bankrupt"—and contended that, "The US outspends the rest of the world put together [on its military]. Other countries need to take up some of the slack." Johnson trails in national opinion polls early in the campaign, with a top score so far of just 3%. The latest CNN poll does however place him just ahead of fellow back-markers Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum. Johnson—who is fiscally, but not socially, conservative—advocates legalizing and regulating marijuana and treating other drug use primarily as a health issue, rather than a criminal one. He added: "We're continuing to battle the drug war on the basis of prohibition... If elected, we will be legalizing marijuana to bring about a rational approach to drug policy."

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.