SANTA FE -- Gov. Gary Johnson is touting his state package of "leading-edge
drug reform measures" to a national audience.

The GOP governor, in an interview taped Monday for use on ABC's
"Nightline," said the legislation he has proposed in New Mexico is "very

Johnson said "if you're smoking marijuana in the confines of your own home,
doing no harm to anybody, arguably, other than yourself . . . I do not
believe you belong in jail for doing that."

Johnson has asked the Legislature, meeting in a 60-day session, to
decriminalize personal use and possession of small amounts of marijuana,
and to lower the criminal charges for first- and second-time possession of
other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and LSD.

He has also proposed allowing the medical use of marijuana for people
suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. New Mexico has had a law
since 1978 to allow medical marijuana within a formal research study but no
program has been funded since 1986.

"We've got an entire package of what I would consider to be leading-edge
drug reform measures in New Mexico, that, bottom-line, would reduce the
harm that drugs create on our society," Johnson said in an interview with
"Nightline" host Ted Koppel.

That harm includes violent crime, property crime, overdoses, Hepatitis C
and AIDS, the governor said.

Johnson's package also includes legislation to limit the liability for
distributing certain drug -- such as naloxone -- that can be used to help
prevent deaths from heroin overdoses.

The governor says that could make it easier for law enforcement officials
to administer potentially life-saving drugs to an overdose victim.

Rather than focusing on arresting someone "because there is heroin on the
scene," police officers could first save a life, Johnson said.

Johnson has gained national prominence as a critic of the war on drugs,
which he says isn't working.

"Tell me that that money can't be spent better on education, on health
care, on the myriad of problems this country has," he said.

This is the first year the governor, who leaves office at the end of 2002,
has asked New Mexico legislators to make changes in the state's drug laws.

Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque Journal
Address: P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103
Author: The Associated Press
Bookmark: (Gov. Gary Johnson)