The billionaire investor/activist has written a well-reasoned essay in the Wall Street Journal arguing for an end to marijuana prohibition. The L.A. Times reports that in California, Soros is backing the cause with more than words.

California’s Prop 19, as Soros explains, “would legalize the recreational use and small-scale cultivation of marijuana.” The billionaire is reportedly helping to fund the initiative, as is the guy from the Men’s Wearhouse commercials.

At least one law enforcement official, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, says he’ll ignore the proposition if it passes. Baca, who told reporters he has “hell no” never smoked marijuana, just wants to live in a world where teenagers and glaucoma patients don’t blow smoke in his face: “If you want to do a joint in your house, do it. Leave the rest of us alone.” — PZS

George Soros in the Wall Street Journal:

Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good. The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.

Law enforcement agencies today spend many billions of taxpayer dollars annually trying to enforce this unenforceable prohibition. The roughly 750,000 arrests they make each year for possession of small amounts of marijuana represent more than 40% of all drug arrests.

Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually. It also would reduce the crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead.

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