February 04, 2023

Presidential hopeful Johnson favors many liberal Iowa causes

Former N.M. governor speaks at Grand View University

Gary Johnson doesn’t like to see government imposing rules — or taking land.

Eminent domain was one of the topics Gary Johnson covered in an interview with the Newton Daily News that took place the same weekend as his trip to Iowa. Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president and former governor of New Mexico, made a trip to Iowa over the weekend that included a rally at Grand View University’s Johnson Wellness Center.

That rally drew about 2,000 people.

Johnson said he wasn’t aware of the specifics of either the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota or some of the more Iowa-specific Dakota Access Pipeline issues, but he’d like to learn more.

“Under my governorship, I do not believe there was one single time that we brought out a condemnation or use eminent domain for a project,” Johnson said. “I firmly believe in property rights. I would love to understand how much of that pipeline involves eminent domain.”

Johnson has long contended marijuana prohibition, as it has existed in the U.S. over the past 50 years, is not a policy that works. He said the Colorado model could work well in most states, but Washington State has gotten too many bureaucrats involved in the process.

“Washington State has demonstrated, perhaps, how not to do it,” Johnson said. “I give Washington credit for being in the game, but it’s a model that taxes the product too many times prior to it getting sold. Because of that, the black market for marijuana is just as alive as it’s ever been in Washington, so Colorado’s model is better.”

Johnson said his opposition to what he considers government overreach, and his stance on both ending the “war on drugs” and setting up marijuana programs have been confused with favoring the legalization of many substances.

“Actually, marijuana is the only drug where I support an (FDA) schedule change,” Johnson said. “The real demons are prohibition. We need to start looking at these things as public health issues rather than criminal issues. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the biggest reason is the war on drugs.”

Johnson also said prison reform is hampered by public-employee unions in terms of opposing marijuana laws — especially in California. He said prison discussions are about something larger than private versus public prisons. It’s about incarcerating people instead of addressing their real issues, he said.

“The notion that privately run prisons are locking people up for money is not as important as the policies and politics that lead to criminalizing activities that aren’t criminal in most of the world,” Johnson said. “We’re locking people up for victimless crimes, and not just drugs. Immigration policies feed the growth of our prison population, too.”

Saturday’s rally at Grand View focused on simplifying the tax rate, reforming Social Security, reducing military aide with regime changes and other issues.

Friday, Johnson called upon leaders to look at substance and mental health issues as simply part of a larger health care picture that must be addressed proactively.

“When I was governor of New Mexico, I signed a bill giving mental health parity with all other health issues,” Johnson said. “Resources, from an insurance standpoint, needed to include mental health.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com