WASHINGTON: BILLIONAIRE BACKS STATE DRUG INITIATIVE
George Soros, "an investment expert who has given more thanThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
a billion dollars to promote democracy in Eastern Europe and
millions to change U.S. drug laws," donated $335,000 Monday to
support a Washington state initiative that would allow physicians
to "recommend that patients take illegal drugs for their medical
problems," Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. Dr. Rob Killian, a
Tacoma physician who is heading the Initiative 685 campaign,
said, "From day one, I've been asking for help from anywhere I
can get it. I need money to have a public discussion." Killian
reported that Soros' donation will help pay for television
commercials that are slated to air starting this week.
Killian said that "initiative supporters have raised just
over $1 million ... and nearly all of the money has come from out
of state." Spokesman for Concerned Citizens Against Dangerous
Drugs Mike Suydam said, "The people of the state should be
outraged that 99% of the funds have come from out-of-state
billionaires. They're using Washington state's electoral process
to change national drug policy." However, CCADD chairman Ken
Alhadeff said he "respect[s] and admire[s] that [Soros] cares
enough to get involved." He added, "I can only hope the people
of Washington take the time to study the initiative."
MARIJUANA TO REPLACE CHICKEN SOUP?
Last year Soros donated $1 million to support successful
initiatives to legalize the medical use of marijuana in
California and Arizona, measures that have drawn strong
opposition from the Clinton administration (see AHL 12/23/96).
In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Soros explained his support
for the initiatives: "Criminalizing drug abuse does more harm
than good, blocking effective treatment and incarcerating far too
many people." If Washington state citizens approve Initiative
685 this year, doctors would be permitted "to recommend that
patients use a wide range of Schedule I drugs," including
marijuana, heroin, LSD, peyote and methamphetamine. The
initiative would also set up a drug treatment and education fund
and reduce punishments for possession of drugs (Camden, 10/7).