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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)

'bout time.

A dispensary opened up near my office for a short time and let me tell you. All I saw were stoner loosers and saggy pantsed gang banger lookin' types. I did not see one person who looked like they had cancer or needed pot for anything other than getting high. Some smoked in the brush and quite a few left trash in the parking lot. This is in a nice business park near Thousand Oaks. You do not want one of these places opening up near you, trust me.

who said money doesn't grow on trees

This proposition 19 is a bad idea. What is being put forth by legalizing this drug is just plain Morally and Ethically wrong. We have enough problems in this country already and to add this to the woes of our country is Wrong! History is full of examples where a group or society thought doing something like this would help or alleviate a problem when all it did was excerbate the very thing it was supposed to help. Look at other country's that have tried this approach, all of them would say "in hindsight what we did was a bad idea"! Also I do agree that we do have a tabacco and alcholism problem that must also be addressed. The last thing we need right now is to compound already overly burden addiction problem by passing propostion 19. Finally I would like to know just how much POT does George Soros smoke? I bet I know the answer! He doesn't! Do you know WHY? Because he knows just how harmful it really is!

Hey spooky Dude! You must not have any kids! Stoned people
drive! I know you can sleep at night, because you dont care!

Don't kid yourself--legalizing marijuana or other drugs will only increase society's issues, not decrease them. Look at the way Americans abuse and overdose on prescription medication, which is legal but controlled.
If (or when) the government lets companies sell food additives that are dangerous as marijuana, people would be upset. We want to eliminate pesticides and food additives and tobacco cigarettes because they're bad for you but at the same time legalize marijuana, because 'it doesn't hurt you.' Yeah, right!

Wow, a billionaire who could care less about the addiction, traffic accidents and effects on youth that legalizing could cause. What a shocker. Maybe following the super rich isn't a good thing after all. I mean, why would Lord Soros care about the quality of life for people in the inner city and beyond when it's so much easier to call the drug war unwinnable. Hey, we're having trouble with human trafficking. Let's legalize adult and child prostitution, because that'll stop that problem, too.

Right, Soros?

So glad someone can see past the hype.

Welcome aboard, George! I'm glad that you decided to join us!
Your excellent article sums it all up - the current policy isn't working. Let's get rid of the black market and enriching organized criminals. If we look at history, we can see that our country has only had a big drug problem AFTER we criminalized this behavior that 10% of the population seems to be prone to. By re-legalizing cannabis, our drug enforcement people can limit their activities to pursuing the criminals that are selling hard drugs that are injurious to health. There is no reason on earth why cannabis should be classified and criminalized in the manner it is. There is also no reason on earth why we shouldn't have the very lucrative hemp industry that will come with bringing back cannabis. That hasn't been discussed as much as it should have.

No surprise here. When you are trying to run the country (from behind the scenes) you need to ensure people are drugged enough to not pay attention to what you are doing.

The prohibition does more harm than the cannabis.

Simple message.

Soros should be sitting in a prison cell with his background.

Soros owns pot fields, and has been the main proponent of legal pot for years.
He seeks the downfall of America.

Soros is an idiot and he has no idea of the economics of weed. It's cheap. Regulated and taxed, it will be more expensive and cost more, and lead to more crime, not less. "Private" cultivators will still deal to their network on the black market to avoid taxation. Weed is addictive for many, and messes with their ability to make wise choices long-term.

There will still be the same arrest and criminal record problem for minors - and most people who smoke weed start in their teens. So more kids will get weed, and screw up their lives. And more will go onto other drugs in pursuit of better highs.

This is exactly what Soros et al wants, keep the masses stoned while he and his friends continue to financially rape the world!

Afganistan doesn't enforce any law they may have against poppy growth for their massive heroin drug trade, however, that is why they are a good analogy for farmers PREFERENTIALLY growing pot rather than food crops. Recreational pot use would skyrocket putting a drain on worker safety and productivity.

It's just a bad idea to legalize it. I'd rather see more enforcement on growers.

Ah yes. Keep the uninformed happy and stoned, and voting for more and more government programs.

Cali: Think your schools are bad now? Wait til all the kids and teachers are legally stoned 24/7

I will not buy anything ever again from Men's Wearhouse!

Noo!! We must keep this prohibition going. Look how successful (and necessary) alcohol prohibition was!

Thanks from Georgia. We have already won. Just being able to talk to others about it is very liberating. Come on Cali, be the leaders once again, please VOTE YES ON PROP. 19!!

Mr. EVIL strikes again! From his active collabration with the Nazis to help them steal Jew's belongings to his plots against the US economy, Soros is always on the fore front of destroying to further his ambitions and treasure. It's time to send Soros to the fate he has well earned.

For once I fully agree with Mr. Soros; the current marijuana prohibition does not work any more than the alcohol prohibition did 80 years ago. It is enriching an enormous illegal operation that costs taxpayers billions each year, and puts too many citizens in prison. Yes, overuse of the stuff is damaging and dangerous, but nowhere near the hazards of alcohol.

Am I a pothead? Hardly; I'm 80; long retired, and haven't even seen the stuff in over 30 years, but it would certainly be nice to be able to use weed in the evening to help relaxation a bit.

If the human garbage Soros backs this it must be catastrophically bad for the country.

Gee, how surprising. Another 'foreign interest' making $ donations to affect our political process,laws, way of life. Where is Barry condemning the Soros/Open Foundation?
Too busy dissin' the US Chamber of Commerce I guess (the demons of society).


What a perfect way to create more mindless Democrat voters! Clever.

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