Pubdate: Sun, 23 Apr 2000
Source: CBS News 60 Minutes
Copyright: 2000 Burrelle's Information Services
Contact:  60 Minutes, 524 West 57th St., New York, New York 10019
Anchor: Ed Bradley
Note: You can view photos of the ARO (Association of Reform Organizations) 
meeting with Governor Johnson at:

And: The MAP shortcut to over 160 articles about Gov. Johnson is:


Governor Gary Johnson Of New Mexico Touts Legalization Of Marijuana And Heroin

ED BRADLEY, co-host:

When it comes to drugs, the conventional wisdom for most politicians has 
been to budget more money, hire more cops, legislate stiffer sentences and 
build more prisons.  But Gary Johnson, the governor of New Mexico, a 
conservative and a Republican, looks at it differently.

Governor GARY JOHNSON: We've just got to face up to the fact that in a free 
society, people are going to do drugs.  Should they do drugs? No. But 
people are going to do drugs, no matter how much you repeat that message 
about not doing drugs.  'Don't do drugs,' but people are.

(Footage of Johnson in his office)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) For New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, drug reform is 
just about the country's biggest issue, and the war on drugs its biggest 
failure.  To him, the cost of incarcerating millions of Americans on 
drug-related charges, plus the drug war's $ 30 billion price tag, is too high.

You speak with first-hand knowledge.

Gov. JOHNSON: Yes.

BRADLEY: You used drugs.

Gov. JOHNSON: I used marijuana.  I smoked marijuana for--senior year in 
high school through college and--and then basically quit after college.

BRADLEY: So this wasn't a short-term experiment.

Gov. JOHNSON: This was not a short-term experience.  It--it was something 
that I did.  It was something that a lot of my friends did. I--I'm not 
offering an excuse for--for having smoked marijuana, but I will just 
suggest to you that from my experience, marijuana does not compare, from an 
impediment standpoint, at all to alcohol.

BRADLEY: What about cocaine?

Gov. JOHNSON: I used--have used cocaine a couple of times.  Two times.

BRADLEY: You--you--you've described smoking marijuana as--as cool.

Gov. JOHNSON: Here is exactly the way I described marijuana as being cool, 
is--is in the context of--here's what you hear.  That, 'You're going to 
lose your mind.  You're going to go crazy.  You're going to die if you 
smoke marijuana.' And you know what? I smoked marijuana, and when I smoked 
it, none of those things happened.  In fact, it was kind of cool.

BRADLEY: Why'd you stop?

Gov. JOHNSON: At--at a point, I realized that it was a handicap.  And 
you're--you're looking at somebody here who--you know, I don't smoke, I 
don't drink.  I got this thing about sugar, Ed.  And I don't do Snickers 
candy bars. I--I think that sugar is a real impediment.  I don't drink 
coffee.  I'm a health fanatic.

(Footage of Johnson jogging; Johnson in the gym; Johnson biking)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Governor Johnson is a self-made millionaire turned 
politician, who most days leaves home at 5:00 in the morning and runs 
nearly five miles to a gym for his morning workout.  It's earned him a 
reputation as the fittest politician in America.  Three times he's taken 
part in an Iron Man competition, a grueling test of physical endurance.

Gov. JOHNSON: You know what you always forget? The pain.

(Footage of Johnson jogging)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) He's brought the same energy to his campaign to start 
a national debate on drug legalization.

Unidentified Man #1: Here comes Governor Gary Johnson from New Mexico.

Gov. JOHNSON: Hi, Governor.

(Footage of Johnson greeting people; addressing a crowd)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) He's made his case across the state to the top 
business leaders in New Mexico...

Gov. JOHNSON: The case for legalization i--is overwhelming.

(Footage of Johnson addressing students)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) political science students...

Gov. JOHNSON: If you're just doing drugs, do you belong in jail for that? 
And--and I say no.

(Footage of Johnson addressing the League of Women Voters)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) ...and to the League of Women Voters.

Gov. JOHNSON: So what I propose is--is I propose the legalization of--of 
marijuana and heroin.

(Footage of Johnson addressing various groups)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) When Governor Johnson started saying that last summer 
after his re-election to a second term, he became the highest-ranking 
elected official in America to back legalizing drugs. Last October, he took 
his campaign on the road, making several speeches in Washington, DC.

Gov. JOHNSON: Let the government grow it; let the government manufacture 
it, distribute it, market it.  If that doesn't lead to decreased drug use, 
I don't know what will.

(Footage of Johnson addressing various groups)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) The governor believes that if drugs were legalized, 
prices would fall, crime would drop and the drug kingpins would be out of 

So if it is legalized, how--how would the system work? Would someone go to 
a licensed heroin dealer to buy?

Gov. JOHNSON: My scenario for heroin is you can't go buy heroin unless 
you're a heroin addict.  You've got to get a prescription.  You have to go 
to a clinic to ingest the heroin.  It'd be pretty tough to get heroin.

BRADLEY: What about marijuana?

Gov. JOHNSON: And I--well, marijuana--I would suggest that it could be 
similar to alcohol.

(Footage of Johnson and Bradley talking; the Netherlands; people buying 
marijuana and heroin; people using drugs)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Governor Johnson says to see how it might work, all 
you have to do is take a look at the Netherlands, where marijuana has been 
for sale openly and legally for 24 years.  Or Switzerland, where qualified 
addicts can buy their heroin from state-controlled clinics. Both countries 
say they've been successful in keeping drug use under control.

Unidentified Woman: And roll seven.

(Excerpt from "The Drug Debate")

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Drug legalization has become such a hot topic in New 
Mexico that Albuquerque's district attorney, Jeff Romero, challenged the 
governor to a prime-time statewide television debate.

(Excerpt from "The Drug Debate")

BRADLEY: I listened to the debate the other night.  You and your opponent 
cited statistics, and it's...

Gov. JOHNSON: And who's right?

BRADLEY: Who's right?

Gov. JOHNSON: Who's right?

Gov. JOHNSON: That's right.

BRADLEY: Who's right?

Gov. JOHNSON: My understanding is--from all the information that I've read 
on this topic--that I'm right.

(Footage of protest)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) The answer depends on how you interpret the numbers, 
but to these parents, Governor Johnson's wrong.  He's also taking heat from 
neighborhood groups...

Unidentified Man #2: Just because people say we lost the war on drugs 
doesn't mean that, 'Hey, let's abandon it.  Let's just give up.' No way. 
You--I think the governor is totally gone.  He's lost it.

(Footage of police car)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) ...from the police...

Unidentified Police Officer: To give the message that, 'It's OK and--and 
we'll legalize it,' is absolutely the wrong message.

(Footage of General Barry McCaffrey addressing a group)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) ...and from the federal drug czar, General Barry 

General BARRY McCAFFREY: I'm embarrassed by having a public servant take 
this line of argument.

(Footage of Johnson addressing a group)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) But the governor's position has made him a hero to a 
lot of reformers who've come to New Mexico to hear him speak.  Most people 
would be surprised to learn New Mexico has a major drug problem.

Think of places with major drug problems--particularly heroin--and you're 
likely to think of big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. 
Certainly not something that looks like this.  Well, think again.  Here in 
Rio Arriba County, not far from Santa Fe, New Mexico, you will find, per 
capita, the county with the highest death rate from heroin overdose in the 
United States.

(Footage of Rio Arriba; police roadblock; someone being handcuffed; people 
filing into court)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Rio Arriba is one of the poorest counties in the 
country, with nearly a third of its operating budget spent on law 
enforcement. The county's courtrooms are jammed, mostly with cases relating 
to drug abuse.

Unidentified Judge: What is your choice of drug, sir?

Unidentified Man #3: My choice of drugs? I was a heroin addict.

Unidentified Judge: You was a heroin addict or you are a heroin addict?

Unidentified Man #3: I--I am a heroin addict.

(Footage of Espanola Medical Center; Bradley walking with Lauren Reichelt 
and Ben Tafoya)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Over at the local hospital, the drug epidemic is 
forcing it to shell out more than $ 1 million a year treating patients 
who've overdosed on drugs.  Lauren Reichelt is the director of Health and 
Human Services for Rio Arriba County.  Ben Tafoya runs a clinic for 
alcoholics and drug addicts.

Ms. LAUREN REICHELT: I really strongly disagree with the governor that 
legalizing drugs would solve the problem.  I think that would make it far 
worse, because you would create an economy that's dependent upon addiction.

BRADLEY: But this whole theory that he has about legalizing drugs and that 
drug use would drop, he says control it, tax it, regulate it.

Mr. BEN TAFOYA: Well, let's take Rio Arriba, for example.  We have a drug 
that we control.  It's called alcohol.  And yet that problem is a big 
problem. It's even bigger than heroin.  So--so what? You legalize heroin? 
You know, it's--it's not going to be any different.

(Footage of Bradley and Gonzalez walking in a graveyard)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Phillip Gonzalez, a recovering drug addict, showed us 
a cemetery where some of the victims of the heroin epidemic in Rio Arriba 
are buried.  Heroin's impact on Gonzalez's own family has been devastating.

Mr. PHILLIP GONZALEZ: My brother-in-law is buried here.  He was shot for...

BRADLEY: Your brother-in-law?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Yeah.  My brother-in-law was shot for $ 15 that he supposedly 
owed somebody.

BRADLEY: And it was drug-related?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Yeah, drug-related.  He was 18 years old.

BRADLEY: Your sister's here, too?


BRADLEY: And her husband?


BRADLEY: Are there a lot of people in this cemetery who died from heroin 
overdose or drug-related crimes?

Mr. GONZALEZ: Yes.  Well, the majority of the people that--that are dying 
young around this area are dying of drug-related or drug overdoses.

(Footage of Gonzalez and Bradley in the graveyard)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) We walked through a cemetery yesterday.  Almost every 
two or three graves, you had someone who was there because of something 
connected with drugs.

Gov. JOHNSON: My point exactly.

BRADLEY: So how would legalizing and selling heroin to--to qualified 
addicts from state-sanctioned drugstores prevent more deaths?

Gov. JOHNSON: There wouldn't have been the death due to the prohibition of 
drugs and a--and the illegality over it.  There wouldn't be murders 
committed in the name of drug disputes.  There wouldn't be the overdose by 
individuals, because you'd be talking about controlled substances. 
Arguably, it would be suicide because you'd be taking a controlled 
substance beyond what was considered to be an all right dose.

BRADLEY: But don't you have people who drink themselves to death? Don't you 
have people who smoke themselves to death?

Gov. JOHNSON: Absolutely.  Totally.

BRADLEY: What's different with heroin? They're--you're going to have people 
who are going to...

Gov. JOHNSON: You--you're...

BRADLEY: ...heroin themselves to death.

Gov. JOHNSON: You're absolutely right.  What you're doing is you're going 
to trade a new set of problems for the old set of problems, and all those 
things that you point out are going to happen.  No doubt about it. I would 
just suggest that we're going to have half the problems that we have today 
with the prohibition of drugs.

There are viable alternatives.

(Footage of Johnson addressing a group)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) One of the governor's toughest meetings was with his 
own Drug Enforcement Advisory Council.  From the beginning, it was clear 
that the top law enforcement officers in the state, from local sheriff's 
departments up to the US attorney's office, were not buying his message.

Unidentified Man #4: We don't think that the legalization model is a viable 
model, and we're 110 percent committed to continue to prosecute, to 
continue to arrest, to continue to do the necessary things that we feel 
will--will keep the drug situation under control.

(Footage of Johnson talking with people)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) On his way out, the governor was still trying to 
explain himself.

Gov. JOHNSON: An--and again, I--this is really heartfelt.  I--I mean, I 
appreciate what you're saying and the concern and you wouldn't have voted 
for me and that I'm using my bully pulpit wrongly.  But, man, I'm the one 
that they're--I'm the one that they're arresting.  I mean, given a wrong 
set of circumstances, I've been arrested.  And...

(Footage of Johnson talking to people)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) He never was arrested, but the governor knows he could 
have been.

Gov. JOHNSON: I am one of those 80 million Americans who have done illegal 
drugs.  I--I've got kids.  I--I don't want them to do drugs.  I don't want 
them to smoke marijuana.  As much as I tell them not to do that, 54 percent 
of the kids in high school today are going to do illegal drugs.  Do--do 
they belong in prison because of that decision? Should they be arrested 
because of that decision? Should they have on their record a--a felony or a 
conviction that would preclude them from having the opportunities that this 
country presents?

BRADLEY: But if you legalize drugs, doesn't that make them more acceptable? 
And if they are more acceptable, how do you then argue that it's a bad 
choice? 'Here's something I want to make more acceptable. Here's something 
I want to make easier.  But it's a bad choice.'

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, what do you call cigarettes? I mean, cigarettes are a 
bad choice.  Anybody that smokes cigarettes is crazy.  But are we going to 
say that we should lock people up, arrest people for smoking cigarettes? I 
don't think so.  At some point, we're going to find the notion that locking 
up people that smoke marijuana--arresting people that smoke marijuana 
is--is ridiculous.

(Footage of Johnson entering the Legislature)

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) But for now, Governor Johnson can't do what he'd like 
to, because that would require a change in federal law.  And that's not 
likely. His own Republican Party has asked the governor to lay off talking 
about drugs. This year at the opening session of the state Legislature, 
drug legalization wasn't even mentioned.

You're in your second term as governor now?

Gov. JOHNSON: Second term as governor.

BRADLEY: You can't run for--again.

Gov. JOHNSON: Can't run, and I think this is evidence that I don't have any 
plans to run again.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake