Activist billionaires Sean Parker and George Soros and companies hoping to profit from legalizing marijuana in California have helped this year’s campaign for Proposition 64 raise close to $16 million, about four times the amount spent on a failed effort in 2010, reports the Los Angeles Times. The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana use is leading in surveys and has a massive fundraising lead over the opposition, which has brought in a little more than $1.6 million. Observers say the outpouring of cash for the initiative is, in part, due to recognition by the national movement against marijuana prohibition that this may be the best chance in years to pass legalization in California, which could lead to similar changes in other states.
One reason is that the presidential election may draw more younger, liberal voters. In addition, legalization proponents who have differed on approach in the past have come together this year to support Proposition 64. “We have broad support from a generous coalition of donors who care deeply about social justice because they know you can’t end the failed war on marijuana in America without ending it in California first,” said spokesman Jason Kinney of the Proposition 64 campaign. Money is also flowing to the campaign because legalization in California would generate large profits for the industry, says Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “Legal marijuana is no longer a pipe dream: It’s an investment,” he said. “Public opinion has shifted strongly in favor of legalization, and the smart money is following the people.”