Soros gives $1M to Calif. pot legalization measure
By Marcus Wholsen| Washington Post
SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire financier George Soros has thrown his weight behind California’s marijuana legalization measure with a $1 million donation a week before the vote. The contribution reported Tuesday by The Sacramento Bee is the single biggest donation from an individual other than Proposition 19’s main sponsor, Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee.
Soros, a high-profile liberal and philanthropist, has long backed drug law reform. He was one of the top financial backers of California’s first-in-the-nation measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state in 1996.
But Soros held off on openly endorsing the current measure until writing an op-ed published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal. In the piece, Soros said legalizing and taxing marijuana would save taxpayers the costs of incarceration and law enforcement while raising revenue for the state.
“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.
The $1 million donation comes a day after the Yes on 19 campaign launched its first television ad. The opposition’s campaign also recently took to the airwaves for the first time with a radio ad sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, claiming the law would threaten workplace safety and harm the state’s economy.
Soros’ money went to a campaign committee overseen by the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug legalization advocacy group. Soros sits on the group’s board and is a major donor.