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Senatorial Candidate Gary Johnson Reveals Cannabis Industry Connections

By Paul Gaita 09/20/18
The former New Mexico governor disclosed his ties to the cannabis industry amid his run for U.S. Senate.
Gary Johnson

Two-time Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has revealed his personal financial ties to the marijuana industry, which have some observers concerned about a possible conflict of interest in regard to his bid for New Mexico's Senate seat.

Disclosing one's financial investments is part of the campaign process, and in recent Senate filings, Johnson stated that he owns more than $250,000 in stock from the Las Vegas, Nevada-based cannabis company Kush, as well as profit shares from a cannabis industry funding group, and capital gains from stock from another cannabis company, for which he served as CEO.

Johnson, who previously served two terms as governor of New Mexico, has dismissed concerns about the potential conflict, stating that his political interests outweigh his connections to the industry.

Between bids for the White House on the Libertarian ticket in 2012 and 2016, Johnson earned at least $100,000 in capital gains from stock earned during his tenure as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, and participates in a profit-sharing arrangement with the investment fund CB1 Capital, which provides funding exclusively for cannabis industry entities. Johnson serves as one of the fund's key advisers. 

As the Albuquerque Journal noted, issues of conflict over Johnson's connections to the cannabis industry arose in regard to his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, which he announced in August 2018. Johnson is running on the Libertarian ticket against Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich.

Both Johnson and Heinrich are in favor of legalizing marijuana at the federal level, while Republican candidate Mick Rich is opposed to such efforts.

But Johnson has waved off such worries by noting that he has been in support of legalized marijuana since the 1990s, which he described as a "career-ending move" two decades ago. "The last thing that I ever dreamed of happening is that somehow I would make money off this," he said.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in the state of New Mexico, but marijuana for recreational use is not. New Mexico residents consume a considerable amount of marijuana from both the legal and black markets; approximately 27,000 individuals are registered medical marijuana patients, while more than 135,000 claimed that they consume recreational marijuana on a regular basis.

As High Times noted, if the state made marijuana legal, industry investors could stand to make a sizable profit from sales. Researchers have estimated that more than 57 metric tons would be used in the state annually, which could yield a profit of approximately $412 million, with the possibility of growing to as much as $677 million.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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