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Gary Johnson visits Fort Collins: Yes on Amendment 64, yes on Initiative 301

The War on Drugs has failed. You know it. I know it. Most people want to end it — yet America’s drug war has not been brought up a single time so far in the presidential debates.

“Can you ever think of a series of debates where drug policy has not had one word of mention in the debates?” Gary Johnson, Libertarian presidential candidate said Friday in Fort Collins. “And the reason is because of me.”

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Speaking at a former medical marijuana dispensary in support of Amendment 64 and Initiative 301, Gary Johnson gave an impassioned speech for rational drug policy.

“90 percent of the drug problems are prohibition related — not use related,” Johnson said. “I think it’s really important that people understand the distinction between regulating, taxing, controlling a substance, that if it isn’t controlled — that’s the prohibition aspect.”

Our country has gone through this exact problem with alcohol, though marijuana is objectively a far less harmful substance. The true harm to society usually does not come from the drug itself, though, Johnson insisted: “Prohibition is always the killer: Quality, quantity unknown.”

Every year millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens are arrested for marijuana use, ruining lives and disproportionately affecting minorities — yet neither Obama nor Romney have addressed this issue during the debates.

The reason is because they have the exact same policy on the drug war: Continue to raid, prosecute, and imprison millions.

“I’m the only candidate running for president of the United States that wants to end the drug war now. Legalize marijuana now,” Johnson said to a cheering crowd. “50 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, and why is the number so high? Because we’re talking about it.”

Gary Johnson readily admitted to smoking marijuana when he grew up, identifying himself as one of the hundred million Americans who have smoked marijuana.

“I had such hope for President Obama when he was elected in 2008, I had such hope because he has smoked marijuana,” Johnson lamented Friday. “And in the area of gay rights, in the area of military non-intervention, in the area of drug policy, I was just certain that all three of those areas were going to dramatically improve.”

Candidate Obama “promised he wasn’t going to crack down on medical marijuana facilities, where legislatures — where citizens — voted to implement those programs,” Johnson said.

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Once elected, though, Obama has “cracked down on facilities in Colorado, and he’s cracked down on facilities in California,” Johnson said. In fact, according to a report from the GAO, the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under Obama is the largest in history, growing from $500 million in 2003 to $1.8 billion in 2011.

Where are all of these additional assets and revenue coming from that the feds are seizing under Obama? He’s increasing federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and incentivizing local police agencies to do the same, even though he promised not to touch them when running.

“Colorado has this incredible opportunity — and I hope you all realize this — Colorado has the opportunity to change drug policy worldwide,” Johnson said in Fort Collins Friday. “This is what’s at stake here, and Colorado gets it.”

There is nowhere in the world that cannabis is completely legalized, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drug makes sure of that. In order to avoid the wrath of the U.S. and to continue to trade with us, reform-minded nations can only decriminalize marijuana or turn a blind eye to personal use.

“Colorado is going to be the tipping point,” Johnson said. “The rest of the world is going to follow Colorado’s lead.” When voting this November, Gary Johnson urged Fort Collins voters: “(Initiative) 301: Yes. (Amendment) 64: Yes. Redouble your efforts and make these happen for the rest of us in this country. The opportunity here is unbelievable.”

Marijuana legalization is favored by a large segment of the population and would benefit millions of citizens, and yet America’s drug war hasn’t been brought up a single time in the presidential debates. But we don’t need the two establishment candidates to end the drug war — the power lies with the citizens of Colorado.

Just as alcohol prohibition was quickly a thing of the past once New York legalized it, vote yes on Amendment 64 and you can help change the world for the better. Regulation is always preferable to prohibition.

And vote yes on Initiative 301, which seeks to repeal the ban of medical marijuana businesses in Fort Collins. We need to support regulation over prohibition in our local community as well as in our state and country.

The War on Drugs has failed. Colorado: It’s time for us to end the drug war.

Editorial Editor Kevin Jensen is a senior English major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at  kjensen@collegian.com or on Twitter @kevinrjensen.
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