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Multibillionaire investor George Soros backs Proposition 19 [Updated]


George Soros, the multibillionaire investor who helped bankroll three initiatives to change drug laws in California, endorsed the marijuana legalization initiative Monday and plans to make a major financial contribution to the campaign.

Soros, who invested $3 million in the medical marijuana initiative and two other measures, made his announcement in an opinion piece published online by the Wall Street Journal. "Proposition 19 already is a winner no matter what happens on election day. The mere fact of its being on the ballot has elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy in ways I could not have imagined a year ago," Soros wrote.  The article is scheduled to appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Soros, who runs a hedge fund and founded the Open Society Foundations, has not yet donated to the campaign. But Michael Vachon, an advisor to Soros, said that "he plans to make a significant contribution."

       Related: L.A. Sheriff will enforce pot laws even if Prop. 19 passes.

The initiative was the brainchild of Richard Lee, an Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur who has spent at least $1.5 million to draft the measure, collect signatures to qualify it for the ballot and pay for a campaign. The wealthy donors who have helped to pay for past efforts to change California’s drug laws had largely stayed out of the campaign until the last few weeks.

Peter B. Lewis, a retired insurance company executive, recently donated $209,005 to the campaign, and George Zimmer, the founder and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse, recently gave $50,000. Both businessmen
supported past initiatives to change the state’s drug laws.

In his opinion piece, Soros said that the nation’s marijuana laws "are clearly doing more harm than good" at a cost of billions of dollars a year "to enforce this unenforceable prohibition."

Soros wrote that regulating and taxing marijuana would reduce the crime and violence linked to criminal drug gangs and violations of civil liberties "that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest." He also noted that minorities are arrested at higher rates for marijuana crimes, creating arrest records that may follow them through life.

Although he endorsed Proposition 19, noting that it would allow recreational use and small-scale cultivation, Soros also suggested "its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience." Besides allowing adults 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, the initiative would allow cities and counties to authorize commercial cultivation, sales and taxation.

"Just as the process of repealing national alcohol prohibition began with individual states repealing their own prohibition laws, so individual states must now take the initiative with respect to repealing marijuana prohibition laws," Soros wrote.

[Updated: He donate $1 million to help pass Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure, which he endorsed Monday as "a major step forward."

The donation makes Soros, who is the chairman of a hedge fund and who founded the Open Society Foundations, the largest donor to the campaign after Richard Lee, an Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur, who has spent at least $1.5 million on the measure.]

-- John Hoeffel

Photo: AP

Comments () | Archives (264)

Okay, looked it up. He doesn't. He really does mean well... But my position stands that we need to tackle this on a national scale and not as a states, because it's going to create more problems than it solves.

Where is Lex Luthor when you need him?

Also, I am sick and tired of you dittoheads spewing patently false information about marijuana in general. IT DOES NOT CAUSE LUNG CANCER. IT DOES NOT CAUSE EMPHYSEMA. IT IS NOT PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE (unlike alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, heroin, cocaine, etc). YOU CANNOT OVERDOSE ON IT AND DIE. It, like alcohol and tobacco, can be used responsibly in a way that provides relaxation to millions of adults (medicinal benefits aside).

What makes you think that legalization will lead to increased use among teens and schoolchildren, when you are imposing regulation where there previously was none! Here's our current situation:

Kid: "Hey 7-11 guy, can I buy this six pack?"

7-11: "Can I see your ID?"

Kid: "Uh, I forgot it."

*turning to his friend*

Kid: "Let's go buy some weed from Ricardo, at least he won't card us."

Also, you teabagger wingnuts should tread lightly when criticizing California's supposed burden on the federal government. After all, California receives only .78 cents for each dollar it contributes to the federal budget. Compare that to Republican strongholds like Alabama and Mississippi, which receive over $1.30 for each dollar they send to Washington.

If you folks would actually take the time to read up on the benefits of marijuana legalization, you might see why your post-apocalyptic socialist stoner hippie nightmare is just that - nothing but a bad dream.

Soros should first learn healthy coping skills and then spend his stolen money teaching these skills to others.

Its all in the plan...dumb down the masses...way to go stonerss!!! youre following along

The rest of the country is counting on you California! Please don't get high on the 2nd and forget to go vote. Even if you must take off work to do it, GO VOTE!
That is all.

Just because some rich dude supports something doesn't mean it's right. Mobsters support murder and they have money. California just keeps becoming a less and less and less desirable place to live as anyone who wants to progress upward to another place, aside from the techsters who have no choice, don't want to live in California. I will review any business George Soros has primary or significant ownership of and I will do my utmost to not support those businesses. I will forever have zero respect for George Soros and any other total pothead who decides their selfish desires are more important than the hurt feelings of those around them.

If Soros is investing money in this than there is more going on behind the scenes than the public will ever know. People like him don't throw money at anything unless there will be some sort of return for them. I watched the KTLA video with Jim Nash and it does raise some unanswered questions, check it out and draw your own conclusions. The Feds state they "will still vigorously enforce federal law as it pertains to marijuana" but wont enforce federal law as it pertains to illegal immigration and sanctuary cities such as L.A.The one thing that stood out about the video was the woman Alexander (?) and her problems with addiction and her comment about it being "the" gateway drug.The problem with that statement is that not everyone who uses or has used pot turned into an addict. Not everyone who consumes legal alcohol turns into an alcoholic either. I sympathize with her past problems but the fact remains that not everyone has abusive or addictive personality traits. It boils down to the "will" and self control of the individual. All I can say is lets hear both sides of the argument, all the TRUTHFUL FACTS so people can make an informed decision.

lets give equal time to both sides of the argument

Why on earth would anyone want more potheads teaching our children, running our government, manning mass transit, running industrial or simple machinery, driving motorized vehicles of any kind, handling our food, deciding which treatments we may get in 2013 by wrist monitor (or if indeed if we're not worth it to the state and get sent to hospice care per ObamaCare' 15 man board Obama apparently appointed 3 days after signing the stimulus bill)...unless George Sorros has some ulterior motive (like one of 10 pillars of the Communist Manifesto)?
Too spooky to contemplate what that might be.

I was going to vote Yes on 19 until reading this. But if Soros is throwing his money behind it there must be something more going on. There is no possible way he's giving millions of his money out of the goodness of his heart (assuming he has one).

I'm now voting NO on 19.

Much easier to control a population if they are zoned out!

George Soros recently seems to be making some decisions that don't just follow the political yellow brick road, many try and pave for him in media. One big problem with legalization is the insurance industry and employers have been screwing over injured workers because THC is in their system when hospitals are forced to do a blood check. The hospital is forced to do this and the end result is no one gets paid and the insurance industry loves it. The injured get screwed over, the hospital gets screwed over, life flight gets screwed over, the doctors, surgeons, radiology, everyone takes it on the chin and the insurance co just says ha ha, nothing for you. Weed takes 30 days to be out of your system and yet the injured are denied benefits under an "intoxication" law. They have no way to prove you were intoxicated because there has been no established intoxication blood level made by the federal government. I wish weed were legal, because many times i have needed it and would gladly used it to just calm myself down. I refuse to take pills like most people do, i am not perfect. The fear of being put in jail and losing everything over a joint is an example of big government control that is just insane and abusive too people who really do benefit by smoking a joint. I support Mr Soros on this and invite him to some of my free to use images of UFOs since he is one of the few media moguls who have a serious interest on the issue which i respect him highly for. His recent stance politically is far more rounded then his critics convey.
So Thanks Mr Soros a joint now and then can help people like me be a more stable person believe it or not, there are times I just can't take it.
A hard working person who just minds my own business most of the time, guitar player and UFO researcher who has come to the conclusion, UFOs are not space craft instead they are space creatures and i have found them in images and video dating back to the 1960's. Believe it or not - it is true.
Thanks for the effort Mr Soros were not just pot heads and I never wanted to use any other drugs and i really don't drink but on a rare occasion.
Stop the insurance industry from screwing over injured people over weed.

Damn, never thought I would see eye to eye with ol' George on anything.

Yeah Georgie boy...drug them up and they won't give a damn about what you are up to! Only in California.....go figure!

the evil pig soros is for anything that destroys freedom and the american dream soros wants to destroy america.

But for all his money made by cynnical manipulation of currencies, I cannot understand why any Americans listen to this former Hungarian Nazi collaborator on what policies our democratic nation and state should adopt. Its true that Soros was only 14 when he helped the Nazis in 1944 but he is an old man now who never expressed remorse or apologized for his help in persecuting the families of fellow Jews. In fact, he told Steve Kroft on the CBS 60 Minutes Program in December 1998 that he had 'no feeling of guilt' for helping to steal the property of other Jewish families for the Nazis "because someone else would do it" if he did not. Soros is completely amoral and the causes he supports have no shame in taking his money which slmost says worse things about them that it does about him.

Hurry up and disappear Sorros you're a greedy manipulative scourge to society

Pot never should have been illegal but it does make people passive and less sharp. Soros and the other elitists may now see more widespread marijuana use as helpful to their agenda.

Oh how I wish the Nazi collaborator George Soros would sit down and shut up.

When the state goes bankrupt, how will the retired state pensioner stoners buy their dope?

This guy is such a joke. He wants to destroy American Society with his liberal views. Ya, laets legalize weed in California that's a bright idea. I sometimes wonder how this guy made his money! Perhaps it was a pact with Lucifer that did it.

Yes of Prop. 19 is the logical choice. There is no dispute that CA is on the brink of financial ruin- the state cannot meet its financial obligations and more and more state programs are being cut, schools are underfunded, etc. We need a new source of revenue for the state.

California has already decriminalized possession of marijuana by the bill recently signed into law the governor. Therefore even if prop. 19 does not pass, possession of pot will still not be a crime in California. So no matter what your personal feelings are about marijuana, the fact is that come January 1, 2011, possession of pot will no longer be a crime. If you are caught with pot, you will have to pay a fine of $100. "Legalizing pot" via prop. 19 simply means that people will not have to pay the $100 fine if they are caught with pot. However, if we tax the billions of dollars of pot sold each year instead of imposing a small fine on the few who are caught with it, much more revenue will be generated for the state. It's simple math, really.

That is why we must all vote for prop. 19, so that the State of California can raise substantial additional revenue, which it desperately needs.

There is a huge blind spot in the Soros argument, and the reason decriminalization/legalization is nowhere in the near future. Mexican cartels are not the group which benefit most from marijuana being illegal.

It's the law enforcement industry. Which is vast.

Why does he have a dog in this hunt?

There is more to this than Boy George is revealing.

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