In an election like this, it’s understandable if you find yourself looking for alternatives. Considering that some of you are single-issue voters, and neither major candidate is great on grass, we get it. As you weigh your options and consider voting third party, be aware that while Libertarians talk a good game of an America where bong water flows like actual water, a Gary Johnson regime would actually make America worse for any smoker who doesn’t also operate sweatshops or own slave wage chain restaurants. You don’t have to look to hard at Johnson’s platform to see how he would hurt the American smoker.
Gary Johnson advocates for “the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that determines your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn.” Under such a policy, risky endeavors—like providing recreation—would be punished and safe profit generators—like finance—would be rewarded even more for their continued plundering. This would also mean a much lower tax base, as the richest wouldn’t pay their share. The music venue operator, the food truck owner, and the art gallery curator would suffer while the hedge fund manager flourishes. A society that divorces taxes from earnings penalizes those who do anything risky or interesting like, say, opening the first marijuana dispensary in a city. Public spaces and cool private spaces will disappear. In a Libertarian society, you’ll be able to smoke, but the only place to hang with other smokers will be McDonald’s bathrooms and Wal-Mart parking lots.
When it comes to job creation, Gary Johnson’s answer is de-regulation. He says, “regulation should not be used to manipulate the economy … or to place unnecessary burdens on those who make our economy work.” This means weaker unions, toothless minimum wage laws, and lowered safety standards for workers. For many of us, smoking marijuana is a leisure activity that requires actual free time to enjoy its effects. If you are forced into an 80 hour work week with no paid overtime, when exactly will you be able to enjoy your freedom to smoke? When your hour lunch is replaced with a two-minute weed break, you won’t have time to enjoy your puff before you’re thrust back on the assembly line.
“Johnson does not, however, believe the government should be engaging in social and economic engineering for the purpose of creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market.” This is a strange and destructive environmental policy. Johnson says global warming is “probably” real. He questions whether attempts to regulate the environment are “effective at all.” (Spoiler: They are.) All this is to say that you might be able to smoke trees under a Libertarian administration, but there won’t be any trees left to sit under while you smoke. Natural beauty is essential to the smokers’ experience. How much mind-expansion is possible when you’re left to contemplate billowing smokestacks and polluted Superfund sites?
Johnson’s crusade of cuts and deregulation will always trump his shallow ideas of “individual liberty.” Let’s take healthcare for example. Johnson has proposed that the U.S. “do away with regulations.” What has deregulation done for American health care lately? Just ask anyone who is now paying $500 for an EpiPen. If a Libertarian approach allows people with common allergies to die, is it that hard to imagine a world where medical marijuana is legal and selling at the cost of an entire paycheck?
Don’t be fooled by the Libertarian proposals like gay rights, ending mass surveillance, and marijuana legalization. In the hands of the Libertarians, powers will be stripped from the government and given to rich assholes, not the average smoker. Johnson’s utopia allows for $500 EpiPens and Uber Drivers who have to work 120 hours a week to make ends meet.
The casual drug user operates best in an economy that allows for leisure time, creativity, and real freedoms. While Gary Johnson might legalize weed, his policies effectively ban chill, a cornerstone of the drug users’ experience.