Billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros has contributed $1 million to the California ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
The hedge fund manager announced his support for Proposition 19 in a piece published today in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote that Proposition 19, which would also allow the regulation and taxation of the substance, isn’t perfect but “would represent a major step forward and its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience.”
“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,” he wrote. “It also would reduce the crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead”
Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates and causes, has in the past supported efforts to decriminalize marijuana and reform sentencing requirements for drug-related offenses, including measures in California.
The contribution, reported today to the secretary of state, comes as several recent polls show support for the measure dropping. The Yes on 19 campaign, funded by a separate account, released its first television ad of the campaign yesterday — a small buy that will run on cable stations in Los Angeles.
PHOTO CREDIT: In this Jan. 23, 2008 file photo, Chairman of the Soros Fund Management, USA, George Soros, pauses before speaking during a seminar at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Virginia Mayo, Associated Press.