Only a few weeks ago, California's prospects of becoming the first state in America to legalize marijuana for recreational use couldn't have seemed much higher.
A Sept. 30 Public Policy Institute of California poll showed the Proposition 19 ballot initiative leading by a 52-41 percent margin a week after a Field Poll showed the measure up by seven points.
Now with recent polls showing Proposition 19 rapidly losing support, billionaire fund manager, philanthropist and marijuana legalization advocate George Soros is coming to the rescue and donating $1 million for the closing campaign to pass the initiative.
"Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good," Soros wrote in an opinion piece, "Why I Support Legal Marijuana," that was published in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal.His column and cash comes after blistering attacks on Proposition 19 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former national directors of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
While Holder said the federal government will "vigorously enforce" marijuana laws in California if Proposition 19 passes, current and former authorities argued that the mere act of paying taxes on retail pot sales permitted under the initiative would constitute admission of a federal crime.
Last Saturday, the results of new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll showed Proposition 19 losing by 52 to 41 percent.
But the Yes on 19 campaign on Monday began airing its first campaign television commercial. The spot, featuring former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara declares that "the war on marijuana has failed" that that Proposition 19 "will generate billions in tax revenues" and "put drug cartels out of business."
Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said Soro's contribution to an independent committee supporting Proposition 19 will pay for increased airings of the McNamara ad and get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of the initiative.
"We've always said is going to be a close election," Gutwillig said. "This infusion of resources will help us make sure that reform-minded voters get to the polls on Tuesday."
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