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Proposition 19 campaign gets $1 million donation from George Soros

Soros-l9zs4xnc George Soros, the multibillionaire investor, will 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.

It provides a huge lift to the Yes on 19 campaign, which had raised about $2.4 million by mid-October, as it launched cable television advertising Tuesday in the Los Angeles area.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the nation’s main advocates for reforming drug laws, confirmed the planned contribution on Tuesday.

"There’s no way to know what this means in terms of George Soros’ future commitments," he said, "but I for one hope that he will end up making the same commitment to broader marijuana law reform as he has since the mid-1990s to medical marijuana."

Soros has donated about $3 million to help pass three California initiatives, including the state’s 1996 measure to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

Proposition 19, which would allow adults 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, was Lee’s brainchild, and he has been the principal donor and spokesman for the cause. The wealthy donors who had bankrolled past efforts to change California’s drug laws were not involved in the campaign at the beginning and had largely stayed on the sidelines until the last few weeks.

Peter B. Lewis, a retired insurance company executive, recently donated $209,005, and George Zimmer, the founder and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse, donated $50,000. Zimmer had earlier donated $20,500. Both businessmen have supported past initiatives to soften the state’s drug laws, including the medical marijuana initiative.

Soros announced his support for the initiative, which would also allow cities and counties to authorize commercial cultivation and sales, in an opinion piece that was published online Monday evening by the Wall Street Journal. He called for marijuana to be regulated and taxed.

"Proposition 19 already is a winner no matter what happens on Election Day," he wrote. "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."

-- John Hoeffel

Photo: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg

Comments () | Archives (56)


Billionaires are likely to think the world belongs to them. A perfect example is Meg Whitman, who thinks she can buy the governor's office. She may have lived in California, but she didn't even bother to vote for decades.

Soros is not even an American. You know I can't figure you people in California. Your state is bankrupt, People are out of work by the millions. Your looking at voting for Jerry loser Brown again. It looks to me like POT is legal already. You people must be stoned all the freakin time. Lets face it, it would be better for the country if your state would succeed. Just become your own country, print your own money. Then you can screw up all you want to.

Bunch of morons.

You could be more like me if you tried!

Soros: a modern democratic socialist progressive libertarian! that's a new one! who'd a thunk it???

Instead of investing his money into drugs, this old man should be investing it in kid's education instead. He should be investing money to promote a drug-free society, not promoting drug use. Got to wonder what kind of morals he has. Does he want to see America plunge into the abyss? People reject this man's nonsense and KEEP CALIFORNIA CLEAN!! Vote "NO" on prop. 19. Let's say "NO" to drugs!!


I know the critics are saying that it does not solve everything but it is the right step forward!

The law would begin to take the power away from illegitimate business profiting on the drug trade.

No more illegal grow houses in the middle of a neighborhood, no more medical marijuana shops with their shady ownership groups, and the prices for marijuana should plummet causing the middle man out.

Tax the cultivation, tax the sales, tax everyone. It will still be cheaper for the end user, its a WEED that grows 8 feet tall people. The cost to grow a high end marijuana plant is nil.

The silly banter from the police department about the increase in stoned drivers is hogwash. If someone is going to drive stoned, they are going to do so if it is legal or not. It is illegal to drive intoxicated wheter you are drinking booze, cough syrup, or are just too tired. People driving intoxicated is a ugly fact of life that will happen either way, I would argue though that stoned drivers are less likely to cause an accident that a drunk driver.

Stand up for what is right, stand up to our country as a California, and make your voice heard.

Stand and deliver the truth, VOTE YES ON PROP 19!

This "buds" for you, George!

Soros' area of expertise is in global currency, that's what he manipulated and milked as a middle-man and self-described "digestive system" of the market. But he is clueless about drug policy. It is annoying when people in other fields such as movie starts, athletes, etc. try to give their voice to some topic they have no idea about. The last thing we need in California are little kids having easy access and increased peer pressure to smoke pot, and everyone having to worry about being killed by a pot impaired driver on the road.

Thanks George Soros!
Yes on 19!

prop 19 passing will lower alcohol crime and other drug crime. Less drug war violence is good for everyone. Especially kids playing and growing up in drug war zones. Thank God for people of conscience. This is the beginning of hope for everyone that have none. The only thing this passing will harm is alcohol profit. How many have died to sustain it? However i am ashamed of organized religon on all levels. Its ok by them for people to be killed for not supporting alcohol profit. Its a shame organized religon seems to like to current levels of alcohol crime, but some of the most horrendous things have been done in the name of "The Love Of God"?

more idiots will be on the road if prop 19 passed.

Thanks George!

"b" posted a rant calling Soros a "Nazi" which is ridiculous and false. Soros is Jewish ("The family changed its name in 1936 from Schwartz to Soros in response to growing anti-semitism with the rise of Fascism." -Wikipedia).
And he gave a whole lot of money trying to defeat George Dubya. That makes him a hero in my book for trying. He knew Bush would ruin things in this country if elected, but we didn't have any idea how much.

George Soros is a hero! Stand up for your personal freedom everybody. End Prohibition! Yes on 19!

Soros made his money from two main places.
He started off doing hedge funds in the 70's.
In 1992 he took a huge bet on the value of the British Pound.
He correctly figured it would be devalued, shorted the pound, and reaped a fortune. He is actually credited with causing a currency crisis, hurrying
along the process. He made more than a Billion and the crisis cost the UK
over 3.4 Billion pounds.

For the guy that made the Nazi comment, you have things a bit mixed up.
First off he was 14 and he also happened to be Jewish, though the family
did change their name to hide it. Any evil he did then was pretty

And no, I'm not a fan of his politics, though on prop 19 we agree.

Soros ROCKS!

Thank you, George Soros. You are consistently on the side of democracy and freedom.

Now, everyone, vote YES on Prop 19!

Well, well, well. It seems like our dear friend Mr. Soros is at it again: Apparently Mr. Soros has just contributed 1 million dollars in support of Proposition 19’s attempt to legalize the use of marijuana in our state.

It seems that Mr. Soros is as addicted to his personal campaign to legalize drugs in America as he is as to making obscene amounts of money. (He’s probably shorting the dollar in international currency markets as I write this).

Soros—a billionaire whose constituency consists of personal bank accounts around the world—has been a long-time advocate of the legalization of drugs in America. As a foreign born naturalized citizen of the United States, Mr. Soros has pursued his egotistical effort to legalize drugs in his adopted country with a passion that could be characterized as ‘Folly without Borders.’ This economically derived commitment confirms that his audacity is as boundless as his judgment is philosophically unsound.

If what Mr. Soros really craves is some respect from the American people, I have a suggestion for him: Instead of lobbing money at Proposition 19 he should donate 50 million dollars in an effort to establish and sustain a chain of drug treatment centers throughout the state of California.

Instead enticing Californians toward the use of illegal drugs, I challenge Mr. Soros to help the addicted souls who were unable to muster the strength, rely on the laws or seek the wisdom to stay away from illegal drugs.

If, Mr. Soros, you do take up this challenge, I guarantee you’ll be on your way to earning the respect of your fellow Americans rather than eliciting their contempt.

Its funny all the commentary saying "vote no on Prop 19". Bottom line is any argument about pot (drivers driving on it, adverse health effects, drug leading to harder drugs etc.) can be made agaimst alcohol remaining legal. To be certain, every hard drug user started with alcohol. But our nation not only embraces alcohol use it encourages its use to the fullest as though its not a drug. Hate to break it to you all but it is and encouraging its use while trying to make out pot users as "druggies" is just plain idiotic. Just watch a Super Bowl and you can probably count 20-30 ads in the course of a 3 hour period showing how funny and cool drinking alcohol is. Yet, pot is a deamon drug. Yeah right! For all those that don't want pot legalized, you should draft legislation outlawing alcohol (AGAIN) because your drug of choice is just as bad in all areas and you are total hypocrites. But that will never happen cause our country (right wing conservatives) love getting their buzz on with booze. Go to any polical function and see the alcohol freely consumed. . . no matter what the party. And seriously, anyone who wants pot can get it anyway . . so legalizing it only allows its control it certainly won't increase its consumption except for those robots who only do drugs that are legal because they follow all government orders. Those are the people who drink now but don't smoke weed cause the government tells them its a naughty thing to do. Once they get the go ahead they'll be smoking it up like the rest of the free thinkers now who already know its a drug comparable to alcohol. These non-free-thinking retards are the only ones I worry about and I really don't want them joining the enlightened ones now smoking the "good stuff".

if 19 doesn't pass i would look into ballot tampering

Sorosi is my hero. That darn man went through a Nazi invasion and communist regime and in darn opinion is the darn best econimists in the world. I love that man. I only wish I could climb the latter faster to be able to work with him at an educational leveled field, I could learn so much from him. Darn man is a genious. He is one of my mentors on the ability to trace business cycles and create predictions along with being able to see vulnerabilities. Soros i is the man. Freedom and libtery. If anyone ever wanted to meet a man who knows what it is like to be oppressed I bet you Dr. Soros, could tell you.

you think its legal drug dealers will stop? they will stop selling weed to adults and sell crack or other drugs. but for underage kids . YES BUSINESS STILL GOING. but now standing on the corner selling it is legal as its legal to have in your hands. pot will be curbed like booze no sales after 2 am? drug testing for driving cost the state how much more? to avoid taxes you by from who a DEALER? the only thing you are doing is make it legal for drug dealers to SELL it. the drugs dealers can beat any CA market price.

Chris Martin doesnt know what he is talking about, Soros is Jewish, he was born in 1930 which would make him 13 when WWII started, and He's Hungarian not german, Soros made his money in the markets

I rather see 1000 sick patients in pain because there's no marijuana available to them than see 4 million kids high on the drugs.

Amsterdam legalized drugs years ago and the only problems they have are traffic control and possibly the munchies.
It's time for America to realize that the only way to block the growing incursion of drug cartels into the US is to legalize it and take the profit out of the drug trade.
True that marijuana isn't a huge income stream to Mexican drug cartels. But there is a huge problem in CA with drug gangs growing marijuana in the national forests and wild lands, often using violence to guard their crops. Consumers are forced to deal with drug dealers and while the bulk of the money may not flow to Mexico it does flow into CA gangs.

@mark feigin

That has to be the most ignorant comment I've ever heard. So I guess drinking my chamomile tea, taking my kava kava, after a long hard day of work or when I'm stressed is bad as well?

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