If voters think this year’s Libertarian ticket is made up of “fringe” candidates, one issue that likely comes to mind is marijuana. The Libertarian presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, is the former CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a marijuana-branding company, and has publicly supported legalizing the drug for almost two decades. He talks to Steve Kroft about his position in the clip above.
For Johnson, the roots of America’s high incarceration rates—the highest in the world—are due to drug laws. “We have tens of millions of Americans in this country that, but for our drug laws, would otherwise be taxpaying, law abiding citizens, but are currently felons,” he said.
Johnson’s plan would remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs and leave it to the states to regulate, as they do with alcohol. But regardless of what happens in November, Johnson sees legalization as a matter of when, not if. “I do believe that when we legalize marijuana,” he said, “that this country will take a quantum leap of understanding when it comes to drugs and first recognize drugs as a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue.”
Johnson’s positions are informed, in part, by being personally acquainted with the effects of marijuana use. He was an unabashed consumer of the drug until earlier this year, when he was happy to trade the title “cannabis user” for “presidential nominee.”
Johnson says the role of Commander-in-chief is too important to gamble with ganja. “I’ve always said you should not show up on the job impaired,” he told Kroft. “Running for president is a 24/7 gig. Being president is a 24/7 gig. Incoming missiles, you got 12 minutes to deal with it.”
And although nearly 100 million Americans have admitted to using the recreational drug, Johnson realizes that his use may be met with stigma. “The unforgivable in life: hypocrisy —saying one thing and doing another,” he said. “I hope, more than anything, I’m credited here with telling the truth.”
Johnson has a plan for fighting ISIS, but he admits that his view of the terrorist organization is not what voters might expect to hear from a presidential candidate.
In the clip above, Johnson calls ISIS “overrated,” though he added that his comment was “a terrible thing to say these days.”
Johnson’s plan to combat ISIS is to first involve Congress, a step he says is missing from current policy. And because Johnson sees the threat as “geographically contained,” he’s optimistic the fight will be quick. “We will see those sands go through the hourglass,” he told Kroft.
If the danger posed by ISIS has been overhyped, what tops Johnson’s security priority? “I’ve been saying that the biggest threat in the world is North Korea,” he explained.
The Libertarian candidates also discussed immigration in their 60 Minutes interview. As the former governor of New Mexico—the state with the largest percentage of Hispanics in the country—Johnson wants to make it easier for people seeking work in the United States to get across the border.
He and Weld have crafted an immigration policy that would make work visas more accessible, while at the same time requiring a background check and a Social Security card. They argue that the problem of undocumented workers in this country exists because getting a visa is too difficult.
“It is outrageous,” Johnson told Kroft. “It is incendiary. It angers me beyond words.”
As for how Johnson and Weld feel about Republican nominee Donald Trump’s immigration policy, the Libertarians pull no punches. “It is outrageous,” Johnson told Kroft. “It is incendiary. It angers me beyond words.”
Weld called Trump’s position on immigration “lunatic.”
Some viewers may wonder why Bill Weld isn’t at the top of this year’s Libertarian ticket, rather than Johnson. Mitt Romney wished for it in a June interview with CBS News’s John Dickerson, and Steve Kroft put the rather awkward question to Johnson and Weld on 60 Minutes.
“It’s not even a possibility,” Johnson responded. “On the day that I asked Bill to be my running mate, it was an impossibility that that could’ve been reversed.
The Libertarian team also explained to Kroft that they both had to fight for the nomination at their party’s spring convention.
“I don’t want to, in any way, diminish the fact that both of us had to sell ourselves,” Johnson said. “And we are the nominees.”