US Senate Candidate Gary Johnson Admits to Involvement in Cannabis Industry

Do Gary Johnson’s financial connections to the legal cannabis industry represent a conflict of interests?
US Senate Candidate Gary Johnson Admits to Involvement in Cannabis Industry
Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

Libertarian Senate candidate Gary Johnson recently disclosed a number of financial ties to the legal cannabis industry. Given Johnson’s pro-legalization platform, some have claimed these connections could be a conflict of interests. But Johnson insists that these claims are not true.

Johnson is currently running to represent New Mexico in the Senate. As part of the campaign process, he was required to submit a standard set of financial disclosures.

These disclosures revealed a number of connections to the legal weed industry. In particular, Johnson said that he owns more than $250,000 worth of stock in Kush, a cannabis company based in Las Vegas.

Similarly, Johnson reported that he is part of a profit-sharing arrangement with an investment fund called CB1 Capital. The fund invests exclusively in the cannabis space, and Johnson is reportedly serving as one of its key advisers.

Finally, Johnson’s financial disclosure revealed capital gains from stocks he holds in Cannabis Sativa, a marijuana holding company.

He said he earned at least $100,000 from these stocks. Johnson served as CEO of Cannabis Sativa in between his presidential runs in 2012 and 2016.

According to local news sources, Johnson’s financial ties to the cannabis industry have worried some folks in New Mexico. In particular, there are concerns that these connections could throw his pro-legalization platform into question.

As far as Johnson is concerned, there are no conflicts of interest. The politician said that there is nothing wrong with his financial interests in the industry because his political advocacy outdates his investments and work in the cannabis industry.

“This was a career-ending move on my part in 1999,” Johnson told the Albuquerque Journal. “The last thing that I ever dreamed of happening is that somehow I would make money off this.”

Johnson’s Pro-Legalization Politics

Johnson is one of the most well-known faces of Libertarian politics. Among many other things, he is known for being in favor of marijuana legalization.

He has run for president twice. Both times he ran on a Libertarian ticket. And both times, he said he supported legalization.

Now, he is running against Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican Mick Rich to represent New Mexico in the Senate. While Johnson supports federal legalization, Heinrich advocates for decriminalization and Rich opposes legalization.

In New Mexico, medical marijuana is currently legal. The state has a relatively long and thorough list of qualifying health conditions. So far, the state has not legalized recreational cannabis.

According to studies, New Mexico consumes a relatively high amount of weed. For example, a 2016 report found that the state currently has at least 27,000 registered medical marijuana patients with an estimated 138,000 people who regularly consume illegal marijuana.

The study used these figures to estimate what a legal adult-use cannabis market would look like in New Mexico. Researchers estimated that such a market would consume more than 57 metric tons of cannabis annually. That, the report concluded, would be worth roughly $412 million with potential to grow to as much as $677 million.

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