Every Libertarian presidential nominee since the party’s inception in 1971 has advocated for ending prohibition.
By Jacob Sullum via Forbes
Last Saturday, three days after Bernie Sanders unveiled legislation to repeal the federal ban on marijuana, Hillary Clinton proposed moving marijuana to a slightly less restrictive legal category. The former secretary of state’s faint echo of the Vermont senator’s bold bill—the first of its kind in the Senate—underlined how timid Clinton has always been on the subject of drug policy reform. Although the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has hadsecond thoughts about the mandatory minimum sentences she used to champion, the woman who a few years ago explained that we can’t legalize the drug trade because “there is just too much money in it” clearly is not ready to call off the war on weed, even though that is what most Americans seem to want.
When Mike Gravel, a Democrat who represented Alaska in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, ran for his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, he argued that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to go to a liquor store and buy marijuana,” he said during an August 2007 debate. Although he participated in several debates, Gravel never polled above 1%, and he got just 0.14% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. In March 2008 he announced that he was switching to the Libertarian Party. Last year he became a director of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a marijuana products company.
Cannabis Sativa’s president and CEO, Gary Johnson, happens to be the other major-party presidential candidate who clearly endorsed marijuana legalization years before Sanders. Johnson, who was governor of New Mexico from 1995 through 2002, made headlines by criticizing the war on drugs during his second term, when he unsuccessfully urged legislators to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize possession of small amounts for recreational use. Johnson went further after launching his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in April 2011. “What I’m advocating is the legalization of marijuana,” he said in an interview with Sean Hannity the following month. In a June 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Johnson pointed out that “marijuana is a lot safer” than alcohol.