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President Gary Johnson: Former Libertarian candidate lands top job with marijuana company

Published time: July 02, 2014 20:21
Gary Johnson (Reuters/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Gary Johnson (Reuters/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party’s candidate in the last United States presidential race, has been named the CEO and president of a budding Nevada-based marijuana startup.

Cannabis Sativa Inc. announced on Tuesday this week that Johnson, 61, has been brought aboard the company concurrent with the acquisition of Kush, “a development stage company engaged in the research, development and licensing of specialized natural cannabis products.” According to a press release published by the group this week, the company plans to sell marijuana-infused oils intended to treat hypertension, as well as a throat lozenge for recreational use.

"The successful completion of the merger represents a major milestone for Cannabis Sativa, Inc." Johnson said in a statement. "With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, we are already seeing that the demand is significant. We believe the opportunity is here to deliver products that could change the world for the better.”

Johnson made headlines during the 2012 presidential election when he pulled in around one percent of the nation’s total votes against Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney and the incumbent, President Barack Obama. Prior to that, Johnson ran a successful construction company in New Mexico before serving two terms as the state’s governor.

Earlier this week, Johnson appeared on RT America to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, as well as the domestic debates surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, gun restrictions and immigration reform.

During and after his tenure in politics, Johnson did not shy away from speaking out against the war on drugs and advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Only this week, however, has he officially become an executive involved in America’s growing weed industry.

“I generally believe this is changing the planet for the better,” Johnson said in a statement this week. “It also is a bet on the future … We think we have the creme de la creme of marijuana products.”

According to the Associated Press, Johnson is already applauding the marijuana-infused products that Cannabis Sativa plans to sell in states where such products are allowed by law. As far as the federal government is concerned, however, pot remains a Schedule I narcotic barred by law.

“Couple of things hit you when you try the product. One is, wow, why would anybody smoke marijuana given this is an alternative?” Johnson said. “And then secondly, it’s just very, very pleasant. I mean, very pleasant.”

Colorado is currently the only state in the US to allow for legal, recreational marijuana, and Washington is expected to join it later this month when officials there begin handing out their first licenses to area dispensaries. As the climate in the country concerning pot use continues to change, however, Johnson said that he expects other states will soon follow suit.

“I think in 10 years, for the most part, the US will legalize marijuana,” Johnson said in this week’s statement. “And what the US does, so does the world.”

Along with bringing Johnson on board, Cannabis Sativa has also appointed Steve Kubby — the founder of Kush and a former Libertarian party candidate for governor of California — as its chairman.

On his part, Johnson will only be paid an annual salary of $1, plus equity, for assuming the role of the company’s president and CEO.

Kevin Sabet, the co-founder of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told US News & World Report that he doesn’t approve of the news.

“We shouldn't be surprised – legalization is about getting rich,” Sabet said. “Johnson is joining many of the political players supporting legalization in trying to be part of the new Big Tobacco. They see green, and they're going after it.”