Bill Gates voted for pot legalization
January 22nd, 2014
10:07 AM ET
11 months ago

Bill Gates voted for pot legalization

(CNN) - Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in Washington state, he told BuzzFeed.

"It's an experiment, and it's probably good to have a couple states try it out to see before you make that national policy," he said in the interview Tuesday.

Washington was one of three states that voted on marijuana laws in 2012. Colorado also voted in favor of legalization and began implementation at the beginning of this year. In Oregon, voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have allowed the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults.

Gates, chairman of Microsoft and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said he didn't actually expect the law in Washington to pass but added "it will be interesting to see" how it plays out when it takes effect later in 2014.

BuzzFeed reports that Gates did not say whether he has smoked pot, but the article notes that the Marijuana Policy Project ranks him as an "influential marijuana user," citing a 1994 biography written about Gates that claims marijuana was his "Pharmaceutical of choice."

Gates said there are still several questions to be answered about the legalization of pot.

"Can they keep it out of minors' hands? Will it reduce alcohol consumption? Are there some people who use it at levels you might think of as inappropriate? Will drug gangs make less money?" he asked.

"I think people are going about this trying to make sure it's labeled well, trying to make sure you're collecting taxes so more than any of the additional state costs that will get imposed by this thing are funded by the consumers," he added.

Another advantage, he said, could be that traffickers "are going to make a lot less money, and some of the perverse things about the illegal drug trade will be avoided."

With his comments, Gates becomes another high-profile figure who has offered tolerance or support for recreational marijuana.

President Obama, though he doesn't favor making changes to federal law, said in a recent New Yorker interview that the laws in Colorado and Washington are "important" because they decriminalize a commonly used substance.

"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," Obama told the weekly magazine.

The president said pot was actually less dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

"It's not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy," he said.

He added the laws could raise questions for other illegal substances.

"If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that?" Obama wondered. "If somebody says, We've got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn't going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?"

CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Marijuana
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Meanwhile, back on Reality Ranch...."Of course the looney left believes in legalizing dope, none of them live in the real world anyways, might as well go through life high as a kite."

    Hmmm, interesting theory. Given that blue states have higher per-capita income, lower out-of-wedlock pregnancy and high school drop-out rates, and give more fed dollars than they receive, perhaps more red states should start getting high, eh?

    January 22, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I see you were on a roll this a.m. on the Cuccinelli articles !

    January 22, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Rick McDaniel: "Gates never was a truly responsible person ..."

    Gates has been using his money philanthropically for many years now, doing real and tangible good for people all over the world, focusing in particular on the most vulnerable among us. I would think you'd be supportive of him, given that he is acting on Jesus' words found in Matthew 25:40.

    January 22, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Gunderson

    Holy Pot Smoke,
    With Obama Care coming down the Pike who wants to be sober.

    January 22, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Malory Archer

    Lizzie

    The Real Tom Paine, but he is a DEMOCRAT, so do DEMOCRATS have to bow and worship him????????

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    No, we Democrats don't do that because unlike the the GOTP we don't worship the Golden Calf on the alter of Mammon.

    January 22, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Wake up People!

    Meanwhile, you sound like a complete idiot. There are many successful people that smoke pot. I know a bank President that does. And I enjoy it too. Keeps me stress free, much better than Vicodin and all those other dangerous legal drugs.

    January 22, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Dead Bear

    Lizzie... You probably like coke and booze, like the rest of your conservative buddies.

    Meanwhile, back on Reality Ranch... Did you make up that totally bs story about kids eating pot cookies and showing up at the er all by yourself??? How Republican of you!!!... Too bad a Conservative has no clue what reality is other than what effects them personally. Everything else they just lie about to make themselves seem relevant.

    January 22, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. shutforbrains

    The Republicans just can't stand to see people enjoy themselves.

    January 22, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. smith

    @Rudy-Hmmm, so you moon your liberals friends behind you? I didn`t realize being mooned was a show of respect for liberals.

    January 22, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. wendel

    You can bash Bill all you want I'm sure he feels bad every time he goes to the bank. The people most against pot are the big drinkers. Its ok to fall on your face or drive drunk. Just ask half the GOP

    January 22, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. smith

    @Dead Bear- Years of research? Really, because you were an addict. That`s not research and if you think Alcohol is worse than heroin or meth you got some raisins in your head.

    January 22, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Dead Bear

    smith... Go have another shot! You'll need it to ease the pain of your favorite political party being left out in the cold during yet another election cycle.

    January 22, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    smith wrote:

    @Rudy-Hmmm, so you moon your liberals friends behind you? I didn`t realize being mooned was a show of respect for liberals.
    ----------------------
    Respect? There you go projecting again. You asked if Dems bow to job creators. I think they would moon to job creators.

    January 22, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Dead Bear- Years of research? Really, because you were an addict. That`s not research and if you think Alcohol is worse than heroin or meth you got some raisins in your head.
    -----------------------------
    I've said it before, and I must repeat myself like a broken record. Humor and sarcasm must not exist in the right wing, because I have yet to see a conservative recognize it. They're just too serious about everything. I'd bet a doobie would fix it.

    January 22, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith

    @Dead Bear- Years of research? ...That`s not research
    -------------------------------------------------
    Ah the anonymity of the internet allows some to be just plain cruel and willfully obtuse.
    May I point out that he did put the word "research" in quotes to denote the sarcasm that you in your haste to hate missed.

    January 22, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    Lizzie

    The Real Tom Paine, but he is a DEMOCRAT, so do DEMOCRATS have to bow and worship him????????
    *********************
    no, we believe in free will.

    January 22, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda Minnesota
    I see you were on a roll this a.m. on the Cuccinelli articles !
    -------------------------------------------------
    Every once in a while my friend the spirit moves me and cnn indulges me! Wink!
    How's your daughter doing "spreading" the teachings of her mega church?
    Have you sat her down yet and given her "the chat"?

    January 22, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    DM4O wrote:

    Ah the anonymity of the internet allows some to be just plain cruel and willfully obtuse.
    May I point out that he did put the word "research" in quotes to denote the sarcasm that you in your haste to hate missed.
    ----------------------–
    Then doesnt't that mean that he like just totally lied, man, about his research?

    January 22, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC observed:
    Then doesnt't that mean that he like just totally lied, man, about his research?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Not necessarily Rudy.
    I think he was being tongue-in-cheek in referring to his forays into the world of drugs as "research".

    January 22, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. just asking

    is gates going to donate a few hundred million for all the drug abuse clinics and counselors that will be needed now? didn't think so. the last thing this country needs are more worthless stoned people walking around or worse, behind the wheel. one thing is for sure, the taxpayers will be paying far more than is collected in taxes to clean up the societal mess legalization will cause. but that won't matter to the stoners because somebody else will be paying that bill. party on dude, life is a buzz then you die.

    January 22, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    DM4O wrote:
    "Then doesnt't that mean that he like just totally lied, man, about his research?"

    Not necessarily Rudy.
    I think he was being tongue-in-cheek in referring to his forays into the world of drugs as "research".
    -----------------------
    So was I, just then. I pretending not to notice the sarcasm.

    January 22, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. smith

    @Dominican Mama- Either you didn`t read my comment or you are pasting and cutting my comment.

    January 22, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Rudy NYC
    So was I, just then. I pretending not to notice the sarcasm
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yeah Rudy, I noticed that AFTER I commented on your post. My bad!
    I posted to that effect but the moderators probably thought it was funny to not let my post see the light of day!

    January 22, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Me

    Meanwhile, back on Reality Ranch....

    Of course the looney left believes in legalizing dope, none of them live in the real world anyways, might as well go through life high as a kite. Meanwhile, stories of little kids in Colorado eating marijuana cookies and showing up in the emergency rooms. I think the lefties just want to make sure people can get stoned so they don't realize how sucky their lives really are. No job, just a government welfare case. Let the taxpayers pick up the tab as people are able to use their EBT cards at the dope stores. This country is doomed thanks to the leftist whack jobs.
    _________________
    I am independent but lean right on many issues and I fully support legalizing and taxing it so it is not just liberals that support it!!! Oh and I have a good job making 6 figures a year so I am not an addict or "low life" as I am sure you would say. Also, show me one story from CO where your scenario above actually happened in real life. I am not saying it did or didn't but I have yet to see any story/new article that states this happen, and even if it did I would not blame a plant, I would blame the parents who left it where the child can get to it. You are giving Repubs a bad rap, not all of them are as close minded as you (you must be from the tea party), I know plenty that are in favor of legalizing it!

    January 22, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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