Legalization, or the decriminalization of marijuana if you will, is no longer just a fringe issue supported by a bunch of old hippies and burn-outs. With the insane amount of money poured into the War on Drugs and people being thrown into jails just for being in possession of a little bag of weed, more and more people have taken notice and the some serious money has finally started flowing in to support the cause. Several states have some pro-marijuana initiatives on their ballots this falls and as more attention is brought to these pieces of legislation, the same attention is being paid to those who are donating their time and influence to the cause; a few of whom you may be surprised by…
Peter Lewis, chairman, Progressive Insurance. Lewis’ company carries a small hint of lefty flavor, from its name to its casual corporate dress code, and Lewis himself is marijuana’s biggest financial backer. After supporting California’s Prop. 19 legalization campaign in 2010, Lewis has given far more than any other individual donor to the campaigns in Colorado and Washington – $875,650 and $650,000 respectively.
David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Those earthy-looking hemp soaps, sold at Whole Foods, could be more profitable if the company didn’t have to import its hemp from Canada, and David Bronner, son of the original Dr. Bronner, is an avid hemp activist, most recently getting arrested outside the White House after firefighters had to cut him out of a metal cage in which he locked himself in protest. Bronner has pledged $50,000 to the Colorado legalization campaign, according to an official, although his donation hasn’t yet been made official.
Rick Steves, author and TV host, Rick Steves’ Europe. He might be the best known American expert on European travel, with dozens of books on travel destinations and a travel series on public television. He also wants pot to be legal. While Steves himself hasn’t contributed to either legalization initiative in 2012, the committee to promote Washington’s ballot initiative has reported taking in $150,000 from his company, Rick Steves’ Europe, since last year.
George Zimmer, founder and CEO, Men’s Wearhouse. You’re gonna like the way your state looks with legalized marijuana: George Zimmer guarantees it. The Men’s Wearhouse CEO has not donated to either of this year’s state campaigns, but he backed Prop. 19 in California in 2010 to the tune of $50,000, and he’s known as a major supporter of pot legalization.