« Federal district judge blocks planned Arizona execution because of drug mystery | Main | First-degree felony murder, sentencing and plea bargaining possibilities for the "Hiccup Girl" »

October 26, 2010

George Soros makes pitch for legalizing marijuana

Today's Wall Street Journal includes this notable opinion piece by billionaire George Soros, which is headlined "Why I Support Legal Marijuana: We should invest in effective education rather than ineffective arrest and incarceration."  Here is how it starts and ends:

Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good. The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.

Law enforcement agencies today spend many billions of taxpayer dollars annually trying to enforce this unenforceable prohibition. The roughly 750,000 arrests they make each year for possession of small amounts of marijuana represent more than 40% of all drug arrests.

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

California's Proposition 19, which would legalize the recreational use and small-scale cultivation of marijuana, wouldn't solve all the problems connected with the drug. But it would represent a major step forward, and its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience. 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. And just as California provided national leadership in 1996 by becoming the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana, so it has an opportunity once again to lead the nation.

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.

These are the reasons I have decided to support Proposition 19 and invite others to do so.

Relatedly, this Los Angeles Times piece, which is headlined "Money bolsters both sides of Prop. 19 debate," details that Soros is putting money in to pro-Prop 19 ads, while the Chamber of Commerce is putting money into anti-Prop 19 ads.

October 26, 2010 at 08:59 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference George Soros makes pitch for legalizing marijuana:


As per the LA Times, on 24 October gunmen killed 13 at a Tijuana drug treatment center:


What is most interesting from the article is the taunting that went on afterwards:

"Soon after the killings, someone broke into the police frequency, playing narco-ballad music and warning that the attack was "a taste" of Juarez-style carnage, a police official said. Moreno confirmed a news report that the radio voice threatened that a person would die for every ton of marijuana seized."

The War on Drugs rocks on.

Posted by: Fred | Oct 26, 2010 11:41:22 AM

"The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries."

Um, excuse me Mr. Soros, but won't "the most widely used illegal substance," whatever it is, necessarily be illegal?

The absence of any mention of the fact that California has already reduced simple possession to an infraction -- no arrests or incarceration -- is rather curious.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 26, 2010 12:07:25 PM

Here is a link to Vanity Fair's review of the book Amexica: War Along the Borderline:


It contains a fair amount of BS, but as lawyers we shouldn't have any trouble seeing the valuable parts. For me an interesting part concerns money laundering in the US.

"I mentioned two taboos in America that have been broken. There is a third taboo that has not yet been broken: the question of money, the narco-greenbacks, the $323 billion a year. Where does it go? How does it travel from the cartels back into the economy? What financial institutions are helping to launder these dollars? Former customs special agent Lee Morgan said to me, 'Kinda strange, ain’t it, how Washington’s got all this technology, but never goes after the money?'

"Last March, the Bloomberg financial-news Web site reported that Wachovia Bank, now owned by Wells Fargo, had admitted to federal prosecutors that, in the years 2003–8, it had failed to prevent the laundering of at least $110 million of drug-cartel money through the exchange houses it operated in Mexico. The bank also admitted that it had failed to monitor $420 billion in transactions through these same exchange houses. Wachovia agreed to pay $160 million to end the criminal investigation, acknowledging “serious and systematic” violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. Jeffrey Sloman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, stated that the bank’s 'blatant disregard for our banking laws' had given the international cocaine cartels 'a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations.'"

Posted by: Fred | Oct 26, 2010 12:30:17 PM

Yes - we'll need fewer Forensic Accountants. A small reduction in the government workforce.

Posted by: beth | Oct 26, 2010 12:55:15 PM

if george soros is investing in ca weed law passage then there is a lot more to it than what soros is saying.
he woundent be interested in ca weed law unless he stands to make a bundle.
so whats the scoop does george have investments in new jails or prisions because even if ca does pass the law the feds wont pass it.

Posted by: bowlan | Oct 26, 2010 7:23:50 PM

Maybe you should try seeing both sides of this issue instead of assuming that yours is the

only valid opinion. Id still read it, I like the way you write. But I can see some people

getting upset

Posted by: air max | Oct 27, 2010 10:42:45 PM

Let us think and consider this line regarding the legalization of the said marijuana. which is known to the one of the most known and dangerous illegal drugs used.

Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good. The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.

Posted by: modern outdoor lighting | Oct 29, 2010 12:21:15 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB