Gage Skidmore

On Wednesday, former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson announced he’s running for president in 2016, seeking the Libertarian nomination.

In his appearance on Fox Business, Johnson described his platform as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” The announcement comes on the heels of Johnson stepping down as CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc. on New Year’s Eve, so he can focus on his campaign. In the resignation announcement, former Governor Johnson said, “I’m confident that legal cannabis is a societal good.”

Johnson ran in 2012 as a Republican, but dropped out of the race and became the Libertarian nominee instead. This year, his campaign is focusing on smaller government and more socially liberal policy, including the rescheduling and full legalization of marijuana at the federal level. Johnson says, “Personal responsibility, personal freedom — that’s what this country is founded on.”

Johnson founded Our America Initiative, an organization dedicated to restoring “liberty, personal responsibility and economic freedom as the true American values,” as well as fostering “an environment  that allows each person to pursue his or her individual dreams and happiness without the burdens of unneeded government restrictions.”

“I think the biggest problem facing this country is the $20 trillion debt that we will have when Obama leaves office,” he said. “Government is too big, it’s unwieldy, it’s out of control, [and] we need to get control.” Johnson blames minimum sentencing and the War on Drugs for our rampant incarceration problem — and the high cost of funding it.

But Johnson isn’t pushing for legalization because he thinks it will result in more votes. “It is a big zero when it comes to the ballot box. Is it the right thing to be advocating? Absolutely,” says Johnson. “But does it result in political benefits? I haven’t seen it.”

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