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If there is anyone who has financially backed drug reform across the globe, it would be George Soros. Not only has he played a large role in the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, he also participated in the legal commercialization of cannabis in Uruguay. The notable 84 year old billionaire and his foundation have donated about $200 million to drug reforms since 1994, with $25 million specifically focused on reforming marijuana laws. On October 26th, 2010, George Soros wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal giving his reasons as to why he supports legal marijuana, which can be summed up to the statement that he would “much rather invest in effective education than ineffective arrest and incarceration.”

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Photo credit: Norwegian Mission to the UN

While there are many highlights of his support to discuss, this article will break down a few of his notable supporting actions of drug reform both domestically and internationally.

Domestic Support

California

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Photo credit: CannabisCulture

George Soros supports drug reform across the board—and not just recreationally. In 1996, he was one of the top financial backers of California’s first-in-the-nation measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state.

Fourteen years later, Soros had another huge contribution for drug reform, but this time it was for recreational marijuana. The Proposition 19 California Ballot initiative, also known as the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act, was highly controversial and one of the first major votes towards the legalization of cannabis. The timing was especially important as 2009 was the first time in four decades that more than half of Americans supported legalizing marijuana. In the week leading up to the vote, George Soros donated an unprecedented $1 million dollars to the “pro” campaign. Although the ballot was defeated by a vote of 53% against and 47% for, it was a huge step for marijuana reform in the US.

Washington State

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Photo credit: Isa Sorenson

George Soros and the late Peter Lewis accounted for a whopping 68% of the funding that went to the New Approach to Washington. The coalition of Washington residents who rallied the movement of pro-marijuana support was successful when the bill passed with 70% of the vote in their favor.

Colorado

In Colorado George Soros and Peter Lewis had a similar influence to that of Washington. They were responsible for an astounding 67% of the funding that went to The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Like the New Approach to Washington, the effort assembled and lead the campaign to decriminalize marijuana. which won with 54.8% in favor of the bill. The overwhelming success of both campaigns have been largely attributed to the two billionaire activists.

International Support

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Photo credit: Eduardo Fonseca Arraes

Through his foundation, George Soros was a major advocate and influence in Uruguay’s inevitable successful effort to become the first country to legalize the commercialization of cannabis. On December 10, 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana, a process that would not have been as easily attained if it wasn’t for George Soros’s foundations, the Open Society Foundation, as well as the Drug Policy Alliance. Cannabis users can buy up to 40 grams per month, as long as they are 18 years old and registered citizens of Uruguay. Soros also offered to pay for a study to evaluate the ramifications of the experimental legislation.

There is no doubt that George Soros is the largest supporter of drug reform in the world. Whether you agree with his political views or not, he continues to impress us. He is now focusing his efforts on needle exchanges and safe injection sites, which are what he believes to be the next focus on drug reform in the United States.

 

Featured image medcannaman

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