Drug Law
Drug Law

Peter Lewis: Another Deep Pocket Supports Prop 19

| by

A retired insurance company executive from Florida who has close ties with the Marijuana Policy Project has donated $209,005 to the campaign to legalize marijuana in the state of California.

In 1996, Lewis donated a half a million dollars to Proposition 215, the measure that made California the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. In 2000, he donated over a million dollars to Proposition 36 to allow nonviolent drug offenders to spend time in treatment, rather than a concrete box for their crimes.

A retired insurance company executive from Florida who has close ties with the Marijuana Policy Project has donated $209,005 to the campaign to legalize marijuana in the state of California. Peter Lewis, a billionaire philanthropist who built up Progressive Insurance into one of the nation’s largest auto insurers is not new to cannabis law reform initiatives in California.

In 1996, Lewis donated a half a million dollars to Proposition 215, the measure that made California the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. In 2000, he donated over a million dollars to Proposition 36 to allow nonviolent drug offenders to spend time in treatment, rather than a concrete box for their crimes.

There has been some speculation that Lewis hadn’t come out earlier to support this measure financially because he wanted to wait and support a legalization effort in 2012, a presidential election that would likely attract more voters and therefore have a better shot at passing. Peter Lewis’ donation makes him the largest single contributor to the effort after the bills sponsor, Richard Lee. Richard Lee has spent more than $1.5 million in his effort to get Proposition 19 on the ballot and to campaign for it’s passage.

Lewis said in a statement on Saturday, “I admire the effort, energy and commitment of the people involved in the campaign, and want to help them get their message out to the voters.” The campaign has been lagging in contributions coming into this last stretch, but a few larger donor have come forward in these last few weeks leading up to the election. Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president and Dustin Moskovitz, one of it’s co-founders gave $170,000 to the effort recently and the president of Dr. Bronner’s Soap Company gave another $100,000.

Along with the extra push from big donors, proposition 19 has had some favorable polls recently. The Public Policy Institute of California showed the initiative polling at 52% support.

Meanwhile, the No on 19 campaign has not had the same kind of luck with big donors in their efforts in this last stretch of campaigning before Nov 2nd. So far this month, the largest donation reported is $25,000 from the chairman of Santa Ana-based Gemini Industries, Sebastian Musco.