Johnson Backs Off on Drugs

Johnson Backs Off on Drugs
Posted by FoM on April 25, 2000 at 06:41:42 PT
By Loie Fecteau, Journal Capitol Bureau 
Source: ABQjournal
 Gov. Gary Johnson, a day after he appeared on "60 Minutes" advocating the legalization of heroin and marijuana, said Monday he now thinks only marijuana should be legalized.   Harder drugs, including heroin, should be handled by so-called "harm reduction" programs, including more drug treatment and prevention, government-run clinics to dispense drugs to addicts, needle exchanges and increased education, Johnson said.
 Johnson said his thinking has evolved since the CBS television program was taped in December.   "When you talk about the legalization of heroin, it just scares people," Johnson said in an interview. "So I think I'm going to focus on legalization of marijuana and talk about harm reduction when it comes to heroin and other drugs."   Johnson said he also plans to be more cautious about speaking to schoolchildren about legalizing drugs.   He said he now would speak about drugs at schools to children in grades K-12 only after hours. That way if parents do not want their children to hear the governor's views on legalizing drugs, they won't have to, he said.   "I just want to be very careful," Johnson said. "I will be going to school after hours ... where those that show up are there of their free will, and they're not being forced to listen to something that they shouldn't have to listen to."   A small group of parents in Santa Fe protested in December against Johnson's planned appearance before De Vargas Middle School students, saying they did not want him to talk about drugs. Johnson subsequently agreed not to talk about drug legalization with the students.   "Those parents had a point," Johnson said Monday. "Their kids shouldn't have to hear something they don't want them to."   Johnson previously had talked about his drug views during school hours at Santa Fe High School and in La Cienega before a group of students from both Desert Academy and Los Alamos Middle School.   Johnson said Monday he will answer questions if asked about his views on drug legalization at any forum he attends.   Regarding the "60 Minutes" program, Johnson said Monday he thought it fair and balanced, if now somewhat outdated because of his shift on legalizing heroin.   "I just don't see how they could have presented what I've been saying any better in 13 minutes," Johnson said.   Johnson stressed, as he has in the past, that he is not advocating drug use of any kind, which he calls a bad choice. He said he still believes legalizing drugs, including heroin, would reduce drug use because the substances could be taxed, regulated and controlled.   Johnson's office received more than 170 electronic messages, nearly all positive, after he appeared Sunday on "60 Minutes," said Diane Kinderwater, his press secretary.   CBS News spokesman Kevin Tedesco said Monday the "60 Minutes" segment on Johnson has generated "a fairly normal reaction" in terms of the number of e-mails, letters and telephone calls from viewers.   "We don't give out exact numbers," Tedesco said. "And it's kind of too early to tabulate that  it's less than 24 hours."   In New Mexico, Johnson's approval rating with voters has plunged nearly 20 percentage points in the past year, declining from a 54 percent level in April 1999 to 35 percent last month, according to a recent Journal poll.   More than two-thirds of New Mexico voters surveyed in the poll called Johnson's push to legalize marijuana and heroin a bad idea.   Johnson said he knew his popularity would plummet when he started pushing for drug legalization because he said people do not understand the issue. For example, he said, he still is convinced legalizing heroin would result in less drug-related crime.   "But the message gets lost," Johnson said. "That's why you need to be looking at marijuana first. Why not take a realistic approach to this?"   Johnson earlier this month vetoed a provision in the $3.5 billion state budget that would have banned the use of budget money to "promote the legalization or decriminalization of controlled substances."   Johnson, who had spent state money in the past on trips to promote his drug views, said the budget provision was an infringement on his freedom of speech.   However, Johnson reiterated Monday that he does not plan to spend more state money for his own travel on out-of-state trips promoting his drug views, although his security detail would still be paid with state funds.   "Regrettably, security will go along with me skiing," said Johnson, an avid skier. "I mean, that's their job, so I don't know where you draw the line." Published: April 25, 2000Copyright  1997 - 2000 Albuquerque JournalRelated Articles & Web Site On Governor Gary Johnson:Governor Gary Johnson's Home Page New Mexico Drug Policy Foundation Minutes To Air Johnson Drug Views Cuts Drug Censorship Minutes To Air Johnson Drug Views - Original Article Articles On Governor Gary Johnson - Over 220 News Items: 
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Comment #7 posted by legalizeit on April 25, 2000 at 22:52:04 PT
Legalize this, not that...
Remember, at one time ALL drugs were legal. And little was heard in those days about addicts, overdoses, etc. Without the negative stigma, drugs were as accepted as our currently legal drugs are.It's time for the government to butt out entirely. People who really want to will do drugs whether they're legal, prohibited, or in whatever special status the bureaucrats come up with.If they want to help the Indians in New Mexico (or whomever) get over heroin, they should be actually helping them instead of throwing them in jail.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 25, 2000 at 18:15:07 PT
Taped in December
Hi mungojelly,I think he changed his thinking after the show was taped in December and they should have been better at explaining why he changed his stand. Maybe they will do a follow up. Let's keep our fingers crossed! In essence if he wants Heroin Addicts treated as a medical problem and prescribed, it really wouldn't be legalized would it? Legalize means legalize I think. Back to the tough word that always trips everyone up including me. What he is saying is more of a harm reduction approach. That's what I got out of the program and the news articles. Do you get that too?Peace, FoM!Here are a few articles on Harm Reduction. It might help those who are new learning about drug policy to read about the different approaches to solving the drug war. This is how I am learning. I learn something new everyday! Thank you for your input here at CannabisNews. I don't think I've ever said thanks to you so I'll say thank you now!
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Comment #5 posted by mungojelly on April 25, 2000 at 16:43:13 PT:
Didn't they see the program?
Didn't they see the program? That's exactly what he said, is that he would want to see heroin sold only to registered addicts under tightly controlled circumstances. But hey, if they want to say that he "changed" his position just because they finally got it that he doesn't want heroin being sold to three year olds in toy stores, whatever. As long as they start representing him more accurately, it's all good. 
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Comment #4 posted by arcturus on April 25, 2000 at 10:54:31 PT
Maybe I'm foggy, but I think this message is the same message he came out with in the beginning. He's always talked about heroin in terms of medical control only. It's the media that has lumped the two together all along. I think he had to put it this way to remind people what his message is/was.
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Comment #3 posted by MMMM on April 25, 2000 at 10:26:43 PT
He smartened up!
At least people will listen to him now. He has smartened up.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 25, 2000 at 08:49:36 PT
Legalizing Marijuana or Cannabis!
You know Kanabys I really try hard not to comment on some of the news articles so I don't upset anyone because my opinions are just that my opinions and nothing profound but Cannabis shouldn't be connected to Heroin. I don't believe people shoud go to jail for being an addict but I have to force myself to understand full legalization and since I do news everyday I wonder if I have trouble with this how do main stream people feel. Marijuana is in a class all it's own. It is really just a good medicinal plant not a drug in my opinion.PS: I have read emails recently that want people to stop using the name Marijuana because of it's bad meaning from the reefer madness era and use the name Cannabis which has always stood for the medical uses of Marijuana. I wonder how much the name matters but it sure seems some people think it matters alot!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by Kanabys on April 25, 2000 at 08:38:02 PT
good change
I have always supported most of gov Johnson's views on this subject. I believe fully in the free use of cannabis by responsible adults. I thought that the stance on heroin was too extreme though. He's right, it scares most of the public. I think it was hurting the chances for cannabis legalization. Although, I do believe that it doesn't matter about heroin's legal status, people will do it if they want to do it. That really is of no concern to me. I do think that just going for the legalizing of cannabis will bring much better results.
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