Paul Buchheit, creator of Gmail and Friendfeed, has now joined Facebook. He’s also just joined two Facebook co-founders in donating to the Yes on Proposition 19 campaign, for the legalization of marijuana in California.
The two co-founders, Sean Parker and Dustin Moskovitz have given a total of $170,000 to the backers of Proposition 19 ($100,000 and $70,000 respectively). Buchhelt’s contribution comes in the last weekend before the vote, and as polls show Proposition 19 losing support.
Earlier this week, billionaire George Soros donated $1 million to the Yes on Proposition 19 campaign. As he did so, he said, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize the recreational use and small-scale cultivation of marijuana, wouldn’t solve all the problems connected with the drug. But it would represent a major step forward, and its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience. Just as the process of repealing national alcohol prohibition began with individual states repealing their own prohibition laws, so individual states must now take the initiative with respect to repealing marijuana prohibition laws. And just as California provided national leadership in 1996 by becoming the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana, so it has an opportunity once again to lead the nation.
Buchhelt, meanwhile, explained the reasons behind his decision to contribute a six-figure amount on his blog.
Some politicians have argued that proposition 19 is “flawed”. To me, this seems like a weak defense of the status quo from politicians afraid to stand out on a controversial issue. Of course it’s not perfect — no law is perfect. However, the current system of drug prohibition is much, much worse. “Perfect” is not one of the options offered on Tuesday’s ballot. We can either choose “much better” (Yes on 19), or “keep the current, disastrously bad, system” (No on 19).
If proposition 19 passes, the immediate effect may not be that significant due to federal challenges and such. However, I believe the long-term effects will be enormous. Prohibition is a disaster. Many politicians will admit to this fact, however most of them have been too timid to actually do anything about it, to lead the country towards safer, saner policies. In this case, the voters must lead, and the politicians will follow. Even if 19 does not pass (Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight gives it “even odds” of passing), it will still mark an important shift in the debate over drugs, especially if YOU vote for it.
Of course, among those who favor the law in California, many see green, and not in terms of the plant itself. Rather, it is seen by many as a way to infuse cash into California’s state and local coffers, through taxation of the drug.
A Public Policy Institute of California survey last week showed 44 percent of likely voters supporting Proposition 19, with 49 percent opposed.