Pubdate: Thu, 28 Aug 2008
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
Author: Steve Leblanc, The Associated Press
Cited: Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance
Bookmark: (Soros, George)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Financier Backs Measure on Minor Possession

BOSTON -- A measure that would decriminalize minor 
marijuana-possession is on the ballot in Massachusetts largely 
because of one man: billionaire George Soros.

Of the $429,000 collected last year by the group advancing the 
measure, $400,000 came from Soros, who has championed similar efforts 
in several states and spent $24 million to fight President George W. 
Bush's 2004 re-election bid.

The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy needed about $315,000 of 
that just to collect the more than 100,000 signatures that secured a 
spot on the ballot, according to campaign finance reports.

"All of us owe George Soros a great deal of gratitude," said Keith 
Stroup, founder of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of 
Marijuana Laws.

If the measure is approved in November, Massachusetts would become 
the 13th state to lift or ease criminal penalties on marijuana 
possession. The proposal would make having an ounce or less of the 
drug a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy 
Alliance, said Soros feels the war on drugs in the U.S. is draining 
money and resources that could be better spent.

"He thinks the (ballot question) is a responsible initiative to 
reduce the overreliance on criminal justice sanctions in dealing with 
marijuana," Nadelmann said. "Marijuana should not be a priority of 
the criminal justice system."

Soros is credited with financially backing many of the state 
initiatives easing marijuana laws -- beginning with a 1996 California 
ballot question to allow marijuana use for medical purposes.

Soros's wealth was estimated at $8.8 billion by Forbes magazine last 
year. He was also the second-highest-paid hedge fund manager in the 
U.S. last year at $2.9 billion. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake