During his two terms as New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson was best known for two things: vetoing nearly half of the bills that reached his desk, and advocating for marijuana legalization.
Now, as the Libertarian candidate for president and man of the hour for bereft marijuana-minded voters, Johnson is angling
to become forever known as the Ralph Nader of 2012 -- the third-party spoiler who ruined a major-party candidate's chance at the White House.
Johnson's been on point across the country, in speeches and in interviews, claiming a vote for Obama or Romney is a wasted vote. More liberal than Obama on civil liberties and more conservative than Romney on the budget, Johnson doesn't care who wins tomorrow. Either way, the American public will know how similar the two mainstream parties are, he says.
This narrative hits medical marijuana supporters hard. After all, it was Obama who promised on the campaign trail that he'd respect states' rights on medical marijuana -- a promised echoed by Attorney General Eric Holder until federal prosecutors started shutting down countless cannabis dispensaries in California, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, and elsewhere.
To hear Johnson say he's out to spoil either candidate is balm for a third-party supporter; but Johnson's robocalls in Colorado -- which is, according to most polls, at a dead-even heat between Democrats and Republicans -- seem aimed at winning over the same young vote that's expected to turn out for that state's marijuana-legalization measure Tuesday.
"In 2008, candidate Obama promised not to use the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana in states where it was legal," the robocall says, according to the Christian Science Monitor
. "But the real Obama did just that, more than doubling prosecutions, putting people in prisons and shutting down medical marijuana facilities in Colorado. That's not the change you wanted on health freedom. But you can still be a force for hope and change by voting for Gary Johnson."
It seems unlikely that a Romney supporter, hearing that message, will cast their vote for Johnson. And that's fine with him, but it will likely not be good for marijuana supporters.
As bad as Obama may have been, reluctant supporters of the president tend to agree that Romney would be much, much worse.
"The choice between Obama and Romney on this issue," the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann said
, "is the choice between a disappointment and a disaster." And with each robocall, Johnson is steering cannabis advocates further toward the iceberg.