Soros helps drug war foes
September 11, 1996: 12:44 p.m. ET

Currency King donates $450,000 to ballot initiatives in two states
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- George Soros, the currency-market guru known for $300 million annual donations to support democracy in the former Soviet bloc, is turning up in the center of a debate not usually associated with billionaire businessmen: legalized use of marijuana.
     The New York Times reported Wednesday that Soros is lending financial support to state ballot initiatives in California and Arizona that would legalize marijuana use for medical purposes. Having donated almost $15 million to efforts aimed at revamping U.S. drug policy, these latest personal contributions include $350,000 to a group in California and $100,000 to one in Arizona.
     California organizers credit Soros' support with helping them gather the 433,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot. However, the newspaper said that drug policymakers, including President Clinton's drug "czar" Barry McCaffrey, have denounced the legalization effort as "dangerous and wrong." And others are now criticizing Soros.
     While not an advocate of legalizing all drugs, Soros has for years argued that the U.S. needs to reconsider its approach to stopping drug use. In his 1995 book "Soros on Soros," the billionaire said that American policy is flawed because it treats drug use as a crime and not as an addiction that needs to be treated.
     "I think the whole idea of eradicating the drug problem is a false idea," Soros told the interviewer who wrote one section of the book. "You can discourage the use of drugs, you can forbid the use of drugs, you can treat people who are addicted to drugs, but you cannot eradicate drugs. Once you accept this point, you may be able to develop a more rational approach to the problem."
     Soros also observed in that chapter that banning all drugs creates drug pushers and criminals, but does nothing to prevent or cure addiction.Back to top


Vinik in talks with Soros - Aug. 1, 1996


Soros Foundations Network

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