Cannabis Exec Gary Johnson Launches Presidential Bid… We Think

Published on January 6, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who until recently was president and CEO of the company Cannabis Sativa Inc., announced earlier today that he’s running for president as a Libertarian. 

“I am announcing my candidacy right now for the Libertarian nomination,” Johnson said Wednesday on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show, positioning himself as a kind of Bernie Sanders for the free-men-free-markets crowd. 

“Crony capitalism is alive and well,” he declared. “It’s Democrats and Republicans that contribute to that. I’d like to be that choice that is not going to succumb to that.” 

With this week’s announcement, Johnson becomes the first cannabis industry executive to run for the nation’s highest office. Johnson also ran on the Libertarian ticket in 2012, receiving 1,275,971 votes, or just under 1 percent.

Here’s the curious thing, though. It’s unclear whether Johnson is actually now running for president — or whether he’s been in the race all along but nobody knew it. 

A quick search of the Federal Election Commission’s list of candidates who’ve submitted Presidential Form 2, which must be filed within two weeks of receiving more than $5,000 in donations, doesn’t include Johnson’s name. It turns up Aidan Johnson, Barry Lester Johnson, John Fitzgerald Johnson, Krystal Shantrell Johnson, and even London Mayor Boris Johnson (filed by the “Committee to Take Back the British Empire Starting With America”) — but no Gary Johnson. 

If Johnson just now entered the race, that might not be a big deal. It could mean that Johnson merely hasn’t gotten around to filing yet or that his war chest is chirping crickets. It could even mean his full legal name simply ends in a word other than “Johnson.” 

But here’s the rub: The Cannabis Sativa website has an item from Sept. 9 announcing that Johnson “has become the second U.S. presidential candidate accepting bitcoin.” If accurate, that would indicate he declared his candidacy at least four months ago. 

In any event, the cannabis industry's candidate is in! And his new website, www.garyjohnson2016, proudly makes… ah… no mention of his executive work with cannabis brand “hi” or Cannabis Sativa Inc. 

Come on, Gary. Loud and proud! The media will find out, anyway. In fact, I think they just did. 

What Do the 2016 Presidential Candidates Think About Cannabis?

photo credit: Gary Johnson via photopin(license)

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Bruce Barcott
Bruce Barcott
Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.
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