On the eve of a conference, sponsored by The Independent on Sunday newspaper to discuss their campaign and the growing call for the legalization of cannabis in the UK, George Soros, one of the wealthiest men in the world, and one of the great philanthropists of this or any other time, has come out in support of the Independent's efforts. In a letter to the Independent, Soros, while indicating that he does not necessarily support the full "legalization" of cannabis, lamented the "wasted resources" inherent in the doubling of arrests, since 1991, for possession of cannabis in the US, and called again for non-punitive policies worldwide. He also said that it was a "shame that the American war on Drugs continues to block efforts to remove sanctions on doctors and patients to treat pain and nausea with whatever medications work."
Mr. Soros, an American citizen who, in his younger days, fled first the Nazis and then the Communists, gives away over $350 million dollars per year through his Open Society Institutes. His giving is based on his philosophical belief in "open societies," including tolerance for minorities and free and unfettered debate as an antidote to authoritarian rule. While the vast majority of his philanthropy has gone to promote public health and education in the former Soviet republics, the size of his commitment to American projects has continued to rise. His support of medical marijuana initiatives, as well as for other drug policy reform efforts, has made Mr. Soros a favorite target of American Drug Warriors.
The UK conference, sponsored by The Independent on Sunday, is being supported by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, as well as by Anita Roddick and Body Shop. Attendees will include 15 British Members of Parliament, as well as a delegation from The Lindesmith Center (a project of Mr. Soros' Open Society Institute), which will include Lynn Zimmer, PhD, and Dr. John P. Morgan, MD, authors of "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts," released by the center this fall. The Week Online will have a complete report on this conference, including reaction from attendees, in next week's issue.
You can follow the Independent's cannabis campaign on the web at http://www.independent.co.uk/sindypot/index.htm. You can find The Lindesmith center on the web at http://www.lindesmith.org. To order a copy of "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts," which has been called "The most important book about marijuana ever published," call Book World at (800) 444-2524, or simply go to your local book store, and, if they don't have it, ask them to order it!