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Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson named CEO of pot firm

(Reuters) - Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will serve as president and CEO of a Nevada-based company working to develop marijuana products for sale in states where the drug is legal, such as Washington and Colorado, he said on Tuesday.

Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian party nominee for U.S. president and a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, was named to the position with Cannabis Sativa Inc as part of the company's acquisition of another marijuana-related company, Kush.

Colorado and Washington state, in 2012 ballot measures, became the first U.S. states to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for recreational use at the state level, despite a federal ban on the drug.

Colorado at the beginning of this year allowed marijuana retail stores to open, and Washington state officials plan to do the same this month. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.

Kush founder Steve Kubby, whose company has developed marijuana strains and products, will serve as the chairman of the merged company, according to a statement from the company.

"With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, we are already seeing that the demand is significant. We believe the opportunity is here to deliver products that could change the world for the better," Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson, who had run a large construction company, was elected governor of New Mexico in 1994 as a Republican and served two terms, leaving office in January 2003.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

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