Prop 19 Gets a Major Donation

The pro-pot campaign gets a fresh $1 million donation from George Soros.

By Marissa Sifuentes
|  Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010  |  Updated 7:53 AM PDT
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George Soros

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Ever heard of George Soros? He's a billionaire that likes to donate his money to what he deems are worthy causes. His philanthropy ranges from anti-apartheid efforts in South Africa in the 1970s to under-privileged children in the state of New York last year.

Now Soros wants to help legalize pot. On Tuesday, Soros donated $1 million to help pass Proposition 19. The measure would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate or transport cannabis for personal use and would permit local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of the substance.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, Soros talks about his reasons for supporting Prop 19.

"Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually," wrote Soros. He also cited statistics that African-Americans are three to 10 times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana.

"I agree with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP, when she says that being caught up in the criminal justice system does more harm to young people than marijuana itself," wrote Soros.

The multi-billionaire also cited California's leadership in 1996, when it became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana.

"In many respects, of course, 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," wrote Soros.

A million bucks is a drop in the bucket to a guy like Soros (Forbes estimates his current fortune at more than $14 billion). But consider this: the Prop 19 campaign has only raised about $2.4 million so far.

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