Marijuana: George Soros link to Amendment 64 claimed, disputed
Billionaire George Soros is a frequent conservative target for donating big bucks to liberal causes (of course, conservatives have munificent billionaires of their own -- but that's another story). Now, Smart Colorado, a group opposing Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, sees Soros's fingerprints on the pro-pot campaign, citing as evidence a recent fundraising letter for the Drug Policy Alliance. The DPA counters by denying that Soros has donated to Amendment 64 thus far -- although his contributions would be welcomed.
The letter, which also includes a collection of "Drug War Facts" and quotes from the likes of former President Jimmy Carter and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, begins with Soros promoting the idea of an open society. Then, after talking about his past, including escapes from the Nazi and communist occupations of his native Hungary, he asserts that "here in our own country, nothing so resembles the closed society than the tragic failure known as the war on drugs."
He adds that "the war on drugs has all the characteristic of a closed society: the absolute powers claimed by the authorities, the attempt to silence critics rather than engage them, and, of course, the human costs that inevitably result -- our failure to deal with addiction, the violent crime our drug polices have spawned, and more."
In light of these views, Soros writes that he supports "an exceptional group called the Drug Policy Alliance," and he urges the reader of the letter to do the same.
According to Smart Colorado spokeswoman Laura Cohen, this letter was widely distributed in the Denver area earlier this month -- timing that, in her view, suggests a tie to Amendment 64, which is on the November 2012 ballot.
A graphic from the Smart Colorado website.
"It appears that the pro-marijuana legalization campaign may be relying on the agenda and the funding from an out-of-state billionaire," Cohen maintains in a statement provided to Westword. "In 2010, Mr. Soros donated $1 million to a similar attempt, California's Proposition 19."
Is there a Soros connection to Amendment 64? Only an indirect one at this point, says Art Way, manager of the Drug Policy Alliance's Colorado branch. He confirms the legitimacy of the letter, noting that "we send out quite a few of those in a year." Likewise, he acknowledges DPA's support of the ballot initiative. However, he goes on, "Mr. Soros has not given to the campaign so far. We would accept any donation from him, but that's not the case right now."
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