At an Oklahoma Libertarian Party candidate rally, a former police chief, big-cat enthusiast and gubernatorial candidate said he wants the state to legalize marijuana if he is elected.
“I have a brilliant plan. I don’t smoke it, never liked it, but we can make so much money on it,” said Joe Exotic, a local internet sensation who owns GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood and who ran for president on a handful of state ballots in 2016.
In 2018, Exotic is one of two Libertarian candidates for governor, meaning the alternative political party will have a statewide primary election just like Democrats and Republicans. Rex Lawhorn, who criticized the Oklahoma Legislature for its dithering 2017 machinations, is also running for governor as a Libertarian.
“We stand here today as an official party. This is our time. This is our chance,” said Oklahoma Libertarian Party Chairwoman Tina Kelly during Thursday’s candidate rally. “Today, the OKLP is calling upon you, the armchair Libertarian — you know who you are — you, the thoughtful and principled citizen who has been paying attention.”
To say Exotic has been paying attention might be an understatement. He said he learned more during his 11 months running for president — which included being kicked out of a Donald Trump fundraiser in Norman — than he learned in 12 years of school.
On the topics of drugs, crime and punishment, Exotic draws from his experience as police chief of Eastvale, Texas, in the early 1980s. (A suburb of Dallas, Eastvale was consolidated into The Colony by popular vote in 1987, two years after Exotic ended his stint as police chief.)
“The biggest thing was, I had to work for six months for free to prove that I could do it because I looked so young,” Exotic said. “And the old timers that had been sheriff’s deputies forever had a hard time accepting a 19-year-old guy being a police chief. But I had respect from the city council and the mayor, and I did a hell of a job.”
Exotic criticized Oklahoma’s lack of action on methamphetamine.
“The War on Meth is not successful. Not in Oklahoma,” Exotic said. “I personally know I don’t know how many dealers and how many users. We’re spending so much time on the users that we’re not effective at all.”
He said legalizing marijuana could help.
“I’m talking about just like Colorado. We would do basically the same thing Colorado did and allow you six plants,” Exotic said. “But again —I live in the real world — anybody who knows anything about marijuana knows six plants take forever to grow, and if you smoke a lot of weed, six plants ain’t going to supply you. So we don’t have to worry about the six plants affecting the income of the dispensaries because most people are going to get bored with trying to grow six plants.”
On dispensaries, Exotic said rich people who would own marijuana farms would have to buy costly state licenses, perhaps as high as $2 million for a monthly production of 1,700 pounds of marketable marijuana. (During his speech captured in the above video, however, he criticized state fishing licenses.)
Exotic said his idea to legalize marijuana would prohibit impaired driving and use in public parks, and he offered an outside-the-box idea about how to deal with black-market pot confiscated by law enforcement.
“Everything that is tampered with or confiscated, I want to set up a dispensary in every county for nothing but confiscated weed,” Exotic said. “And that is sold through that dispensary, but every dime of that stays in that county to help those schools, those fire departments, those police departments and to fix those roads.”
Kelly said Exotic and the three other Libertarian candidates who spoke Thursday — Lawhorn, state senate district 24 candidate Clark Whitten and third congressional district candidate Dr. Frank Robinson — have an opportunity to separate themselves from the two main parties.
“They are offering solid solutions for today’s problems,” Kelly said. “The budget crisis. The education crisis. These and other issues that Oklahomans care about that are now so commonly used in phrases that end in ‘crisis.’ Step up and be part of a peaceful, ballot box-style revolution. There are plenty of places to jump in. It’s amazing how fast we could actually turn this state around. Change happens. Politics at usual will proceed unabated until, all at once, it won’t.”