SANTA FE, N.M. — Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he forgives a former state public safety secretary who famously resigned over Johnson’s stance on legalizing marijuana then went on to head a company that produces medical marijuana years later.
Johnson told The Associated Press on Monday that everyone makes mistakes, but he is happy that Darren White has come around and endorsed the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“Admitting mistakes is really (the) key to moving forward. And Darren White admitted he made a mistake,” Johnson said. “So I forgive him, for what’s that’s worth.”
White now is CEO and security director of one of the state’s new medical marijuana producers.
He stepped down as Johnson’s secretary of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety in 1999 because he publicly disagreed with then-Gov. Johnson’s stand on legalizing marijuana. At the time of his resignation, White said Johnson was hurting the morale and credibility of New Mexico officers because of his drug stance.
White later became a two-term Bernalillo County sheriff and remained an outspoken critic of drugs until he left law enforcement.
White laughed when told that his former boss forgave him for publicly resigning over the marijuana disagreement.
“Now that I have chronic back pain, I get it,” White said. “I’ve always said, admit when you make a mistake and I did.”
White said he was using painkillers to combat his back pain, but it was affecting his quality of life so he switched to medical marijuana.
State corporation records list White as a director of Purlife — a medical cannabis dispensary that serves patients in New Mexico.
White, a Republican, endorsed Johnson for president in July and said he agrees with Johnson’s stance to legalize and tax recreational marijuana.