Soros Spends $80 Million Pushing Pot Legalization

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 01:03 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros has funneled at least $80 million over the last 20 years to advocacy groups trying to legalize marijuana, The Washington Times reports.

Through donations to the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance and others, Soros, 83, may be the cannabis crusade’s biggest supporter, along with the late Progressive Insurance Co. chairman, Peter B. Lewis, who reportedly contributed $40 million to the cause, according to the Times.

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Soros also contributes to the ACLU and the Marijuana Policy Project, both of which fund legalization efforts. In 2013, the latter ranked Soros ninth on its list of most influential marijuana users, between No. 8 John Kerry and No. 10 Bill Maher, a proud pot smoker who once said he never made a secret he had tried pot, “about 50,000 times.”

"He said he had tried marijuana, enjoyed it, 'but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years,'” the MPP quotes Soros as saying.

His funding helped legalize recreational pot use in Colorado and Washington state and organizations benefitting from his contributions are working to get the issue on Florida’s ballot as well as similar legislation passed in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the Times.

In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Soros spelled out his reasons for supporting legal pot.

“Like many parents and grandparents, I am worried about young people getting into trouble with marijuana and other drugs,” he wrote.

“The best solution, however, is honest and effective drug education. One survey after another indicates that teenagers have better access than most adults to marijuana—and often other drugs as well—and find it easier to buy marijuana than alcohol. Legalizing marijuana may make it easier for adults to buy marijuana, but it can hardly make it any more accessible to young people. I'd much rather invest in effective education than ineffective arrest and incarceration."

He also cited the billions in taxpayer dollars spent on criminalizing marijuana -- 40 percent of all drug arrests are marijuana related, according to Soros -- the root of which he said was to punish Mexican immigrants who purportedly "smoked the killer weed."

A majority of both Republicans and Democrats – 67 percent and 71 percent, respectively – say the federal enforcement of marijuana laws is not worth the cost, though 59 percent of Democrats favor legal pot compared with just 37 percent of Republicans, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center poll. The same poll indicated that for the first time ever, a majority of Americans, 52 percent, favor legalizing marijuana, an 11-point gain from a 2010 survey.

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