Bill Gates voted for pot legalization
January 22nd, 2014
10:07 AM ET
9 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. Sniffit

    Smart man votes smart. Story at 11.

    January 22, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Gates never was a truly responsible person, a he was never responsible to his clientele. He simply made it to expensive for business to switch........so they didn't.

    January 22, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    Done some of his best work under it's influence ?

    January 22, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Just a thought. Pot growers becoming the new "job creators". Pffffft. How funny is that?

    January 22, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rick McDaniel

    Gates never was a truly responsible person, a he was never responsible to his clientele. He simply made it to expensive for business to switch........so they didn't.
    ***************
    But Ricky, he's rich: why aren't you praying to him? Worship the Golden Calf when you are in the GOP, remember?

    January 22, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Dead Bear

    As a recovering alcoholic/addict (completely clean and sober) involved in many years worth of "research", I can truthfully say that marijuana is the least harmful mind altering substance. It's everything else I'd recommend avoiding, especially alcohol.

    January 22, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    Gates never was a truly responsible person, a he was never responsible to his clientele. He simply made it to expensive for business to switch........so they didn't.
    -------------------------
    Actually, Gates made it ridiculously inexpensive not to switch.

    January 22, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. smith

    I say legalize it and tax the crap out of it. 15% for the fed, 10% for the state, and 5% for the county.

    January 22, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. O'drama ya Mama

    Rick McDaniel

    Gates never was a truly responsible person, a he was never responsible to his clientele. He simply made it to expensive for business to switch........so they didn't.
    January 22, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    What you're saying is its Bill's fault companies invested too much into Microsoft that it doesnt pay to switch? More like he made it soo cheap it doesnt even make sense to switch.

    January 22, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Lizzie

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

    January 22, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Lizzie

    Dead Bear, no it just fries your brain

    January 22, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. The REAL Truth...

    @Lizzie – Dead Bear, no it just fries your brain
    ----------------------
    Lizzie, it does less damage to your system than alcohol or caffeine and one does get some nice side benefits from it. But it does not fry your brain.

    January 22, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Lizzie

    The Real Tom Paine, but he is a DEMOCRAT, so do DEMOCRATS have to bow and worship him????????
    ----------------------------
    Only if Gates were a Republican and Tom were a conservative, then Tom would have bow, worship, and be envious of Gates' wealth and power.

    January 22, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Wake up People!

    Well it doesn't seem to have affected Mr. Gates too much. Legalize it now! Everywhere!

    January 22, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. ChrisM

    Thank you Bill. Now put your money where you mouth is a get it done in the rest of the states.
    Millions and Millions in new tax revenue for all of America

    January 22, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. smith

    Oh now Rudy, you know dems bow to George Soros and Micheal Moore.

    January 22, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Ol' Yeller

    @Lizzie

    "Dead Bear, no it just fries your brain"

    It does not fry your brain, silly lady. Alcohol, Church, and FAUX News will fry your brain, but pot won't.
    Spoken like a person who has never tried it, but did see 'Reefer Madness', so therefore understands it so much better than people who have.
    Thomas Jefferson- arguably one our greatest Statesmen and Philosophers enjoyed imbiding immensely.
    I'll take Mr. Jefferson's opinion over 'Lizzie's' any day....

    January 22, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. mithste

    I'm pretty sure when the Richest Man in the World votes for legalization, that should say something about Prohibition's failure and marijuana's potential.

    I'm pretty sure when the POTUS says marijuana is safer than alcohol, that should say something about Prohibition's failure and marijuana's potential.

    I'm pretty sure when the only 2 teams going to the Super Bowl are from the only 2 marijuana legalization states, that should say something about Prohibition's failure and marijuana's potential.

    January 22, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "Only if Gates were a Republican and Tom were a conservative, then Tom would have bow, worship, and be envious of Gates' wealth and power."

    ...all while believing that some day, if we just keep making Gates even richer by giving him tax cuts and loopholes and special treatment for his investments for being rich, then Tom will also too become a super rich wealthy hobnobber just like Gates, because something something freedumb.

    January 22, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Meh... given the choice between being in a car where the driver is stoned or the driver is drunk, I'd pick the stoner every time. Legalize it. In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty benign.

    January 22, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    smith

    Oh now Rudy, you know dems bow to George Soros and Micheal Moore.
    -----------------
    Stop projecting. Dems don't bow, they moon.

    January 22, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. 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.

    January 22, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC

    Pot growers becoming the new "job creators". Pffffft. How funny is that?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Depends on how high you are Rudy!
    LOL!

    @ Dead Bear
    involved in many years worth of "research", I can truthfully say that marijuana is the least harmful mind altering substance. It's everything else I'd recommend avoiding, especially alcohol.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Co-signed.

    January 22, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. elwin

    Obama i wanna be in charge of opening. 13 lounges where smokers can medicate and enjoy a game of pool or to watch sports,and with a full bar and dance floor so having them is stablish in the moat attractions. Of cali,1downey ,2downtown,3whittier on greenleaf,4 sunset blvd,5venice,6santamonica,7san pedro,8long beach, 9Huntington park,10hollywood,11santa Barbara. With out exceeding of having more then 20 in California, i also wanna. Open a dispencery in downey , and other locations .for every edible. Sold goes to all cancer ,for evry 20 dollar a customer.Spends 1of tht dollar out of the 3- 1 dollar goes to all millitary ,and a dollar to who protects are strrets a and emt,and 1dollar towards. Edgucation , i have garrantes to u it would be controlled violents will lower ,economy would rise i have many i deas i thank for allowing my voice as in this messege to posted and read and answering in email i.s.erellana3@gmail.com Or in person think wat good and comments u get from the public which is wat u need sence u are leader whose gotten a lil bump on the road so give me a chance as well to be s uccesful ... comunication is the key

    January 22, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    2Rick McDaniel: "Gates never was a truly responsible person ..."

    Fact: If Gates were a right-winger, you'd be praising him, based on his billionaire status, regardless of his actions.

    January 22, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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