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Ex-New Mexico Gov. Johnson named pot company CEO

A Nevada-based startup that plans on selling medical and recreational marijuana products named former New Mexico governor and U.S. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson as its CEO and president, the company announced Tuesday.

The announcement came as Cannabis Sativa Inc. said it had acquired marijuana research business Kush while company officials work to navigate changing state laws on marijuana and potential challenges from the federal government, which still views marijuana as a controlled substance.

Johnson said he hoped to expand Cannabis Sativa into a major marijuana business and intends to work out of New Mexico to help develop products that are legal in states like Colorado and Washington.

"I generally believe this is changing the planet for the better," said Johnson, who will be paid $1 a year and receive equity in the company. "It also is a bet on the future ... We think we have the creme de la creme of marijuana products."

Johnson, who owned a construction company that helped build Intel Corp.'s Rio Rancho, New Mexico, plant before entering politics, said the company will make marijuana-based oils aimed at helping children with epilepsy. The two-term governor also said it will make cough drop-like products for recreational use.

"Couple of things hit you when you try the product. One is, wow, why would anybody smoke marijuana given this is an alternative?" Johnson said. "And then secondly, it's just very, very pleasant. I mean, very pleasant."

In addition, Cannabis Sativa announced Tuesday it named Kush's founder, Steve Kubby, as its chairman.

Kubby was the 1998 Libertarian Party nominee for California governor.

The company still is working to determine what its limitations are under federal law, which is in conflict with Colorado and Washington, Johnson said.

However, Johnson said he's betting more states and the federal government eventually will allow recreational use of marijuana.

"I think in 10 years, for the most part, the U.S. will legalize marijuana," Johnson said. "And what the U.S. does, so does the world."