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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)

I'm all for it, but if Soros is involved then you know there is some shady back-handed deals invlolved. Prop 19 would have had a better chance if Soros said the exact opposite.

I would much rather see his money go to prop 19 than to Media matters anyday!!!

"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.

Exactly right. For some reason, many otherwise intelligent people cant seem to make that connection. Prohibition doesnt work, it has never worked, and it never will work. Economics dictates that prohibition of the exchange of goods and services between willing people only results in violence and a criminal sub-economy.

Get em high, easier to brainwash em!!!

Of course he wants it legal. What better way to continue to dumb down the masses to prepare for the "New World Order" than to keep them stoned?

It seems everyone with an ounce of intelligence can tell you things such as marijuana should not be made illegal. This isn't good for opponents to prop 19. Its gives over a billion rebuts as to why marijuana users can still be great contributors to society!

Applying economic principles to a solve a social issue is bogus. The reality is that like the war on poverty, the "war" on drugs is not a war to vanquish the enemy, but to minimize the enemy's destructive effects. More like a vaccine. Even if it were legalized and taxed, the cost to taxpayers in terms of lost wages and additional social service requirements would far out pace the increase in revenue from a tax. And the idea that the losers who pedal this stuff would, after legalization, wake up and say to themselves "...gee, now that it's legal, I'm going to go out and get a real job and become a productive member of society" is ignorant.

Why wouldn't Soros want weed legalized. The more wasted the population becomes the easier it becomes for the elitist to manipulate them. The fact is not only are dems trying to get the stoner vote, but their trying to ensure that the minds of the American people remain clouded and docile in order to limit the resistance to their agenda.

I've enjoyed a little grass in the past but my self discipline has always prevented me from doing anything important wasted out of my mind. Can we say the same about those who bought into the mantra of Hope and Change. Before you cast your vote ask yourself this, is the man who puts the crack in your hand really your friend?

Really George? You think that the legalization of the whacky weed is a good thing for America? People of California, get your heads out of your collective butts and ask yourselves, "Why would a man who made billions by "selling short" and devaluing the currencies of other countries want this drug legalized in the US?"

He is waiting for the complete collapse of the US dollar so that (1) he can profit from it and (2) then force the world can move towards what he and his dad always wanted to see - one world-wide currency system.

This guy is EVIL. And don't you forget it!

Once agtain the rich are bent on ruining this great nation. IF YOU THINK IT'S HARD TO ENFORCE NOW... Just wait until it's legalized! It will never be restrained within the "NEW LAW" wording... And it will get into the hands of our PRECIOUS CHILDREN much easier - Rich Idiots, you are bent on the ruination of humanity and the dumbing down of society!

Gotta keep the proletariat docile and manageable.

Good way to destroy the pesky middle class--create a drug epidemic with marijuana as the kindling. Families destroyed, the only thing left to turn to will be big brother Govt. Nya-Ha-Ha! Old Bolshevik ploy.

That's right, Soros wants all citizens to be either stupid or high on something so he can continue to go for his one world government and currency!

This guy actually hates the USA, I don't know why we allow these haters to emigrate here!

Of course Soros wants to have everyone in CA drug addled, the better for him and his Marxists to control them.

As a supporter of Prop19:

My personal opinion is clever George Soros is out to DERAIL Prop19. Does anyone actually think her gives 2cents when it comes to waste of taxpayer dollars and personal liberty?

The best way to destroy a candidate or idea is to make an endorsement, and believe me - SOROS KNOWS IT.

Either that or he actually believes some sort of nonsense that legalization would dumb down the population (or something to that effect) and he and his cronies could have an easier path to world domination.

I'm happy to see a state trying to break the federal gridlock on this important issue. This is not about drugs, it's about federal control and money. It's about a government gone mad, confiscating property and frequently jailing otherwise productive citizens. Worse still, if you follow history, it appears that drug prohibition started more-or-less as a (power and financial) federal replacement for the recently repealed alcohol prohibition.

It's time for real change. It's time to remove federal, out-of-control influence from our lives. This is a good start.

Thank you George! Sane America owes you a debt of gratitude no matter the outcome of prop 19. Your efforts are appreciated.

Well, it's way over due and about time!

Exactly why does anyone care what George Soro's thinks and says. He's not an American. He is however a pro-Marxist, big government thinking liberal who is bent on destroying America as we know it. What good has he done...no one would miss him if he were gone.

Soros does not promote anything that does not promote his Democrat Party international socialist agenda. Be a good zombie and vote yes on Prop 19.

Of all the things Mr. Soros is, he is correct that the drug laws have proven not only unenforcable but destructive to our state. In 35 years of the "War on Drugs" has there been a reduction in supply? Drugs are everywhere. The more people arrested and sent into the correctional system hasn't changed a thing. Our resources are overwhelmed and here we are. Anybody got a better idea? Here's one: Our resources would be better used in education and treatment of which there is little to date. Throwing money at enforcement has been a huge waste.

Yes! Do this please - Drug war is ignorant, wasteful and destructive - Hateful policy that only serves the needs of control freaks and criminals.

Peter B. Lewis isn't just a retired insurance company executive. He's Chairman of the Board, and son of the founder of Progressive Insurance. He's also given quite a bit to the Marijuana Policy Project. Way to play down his credentials though.

legalize weed......for the life of me i cant understand the GRIP this stuff has on people. and really soros, THIS is an issue you put in the forefront? grow up already. with so much going on in the world your concern is marijuana legalization? take some of that big money and purchase a little personality will ya?

Keeping it illegal mean the government employees are the ones that get to make the BILLIONS off pot!

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