Gary Johnson | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About Gary Johnson

Former Governor
Governor Gary Johnson
Former Governor of New Mexico

"I believe the war on drugs is a miserable failure."

Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson is an outspoken advocate of ending drug prohibition. In 1999, he became the highest-ranking elected official in the United States to advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Gary was Governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003, when he left office due to state term limits. He is an advisory board member of LEAP and an ex officio board member for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. He describes the drug war's waste of dollars and lives as "today's biggest civil rights issue in this country, and in this world," and says ending drug prohibition "will have the longest, most positive impact on the world."

Gary says it is crazy that half of what is spent on law enforcement, courts and prisons is due to the war on drugs, with the absurd result that we let violent felons out of jail to make room for nonviolent drug convicted individuals. He asserts that drug abuse should be treated as a health issue and not as a criminal issue.

Gary shifts blame for problems ordinarily attributed to "drugs," to the prohibition of drugs, for which he blames 90% of the problem. He stresses being truthful with kids about drugs. He debunks the "gateway" myth of marijuana by explaining that "the guy that sells you marijuana now also has other things in his bag. But if you legalize marijuana, regulate it, control it and tax it, you're going to do away with a huge gateway aspect."

Although proponents of drug prohibition often claim that Holland's shift to a legalized and regulated approach has resulted in more crime and drug use, Gary says the statistics actually support drug policy reform. "Holland has 60% less drug use than the US -- that includes marijuana and hard drugs use in both kids and adults. They have 25% of our crime rates and 10% of our homicide and incarceration rates. The Holland experience does suggest there is a better way."

Gary graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in 1975. In 1976, he started his own construction business, Big J Enterprises, and grew the company into a multi-million dollar corporation that employed over 1,000 people. When he sold Big J in 1999 no employee jobs were lost, and the company remains very successful to this day.

Gary does not advocate recreational drug use and strongly supports a "don't do drugs" policy. He is an avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist who competes in numerous athletic competitions and abstains from alcohol. In 2003 he climbed Mount Everest. Gary was raised Lutheran and throughout his life has lived according to those Christian principles. He currently lives in New Mexico and has two grown children.

New Mexico