In every state with a marijuana-related ballot initiative, prohibitionists were financially out-gunned by the marijuana legalization movement (including Oregon, where the pro-pot side managed to raise less than $70,000).
While opponents of legalization claim that two wealthy people—Peter Lewis and George Soros—tipped the scales, that argument doesn't explain the prohibition movement's failure to raise a remotely competitive amount of cash. Writing in The New Republic, Mike Riggs argues that it's not the fault of Soros and Lewis that their fellow one-percenters didn't donate to the anti-drug movement. More importantly, if you take Lewis and Soros out of the equation, the legalizers still outraised their opponents:
While Lewis and Soros gave a combined 3.54 million to New Approach Washington (the main legalization effort in Washington state), there were plenty of other wealthy pro-legalization donors. The family-run Riverstyx Foundation, which is based in Kirkland, Washington and "believes that society should serve its citizens by offering the greatest possibilities for growth and life enhancement," gave $500,000. Phil Harvey, head of the family planning/HIV-prevention nonprofit DKT International (and a donor to the Reason Foundation, which publishes the magazine I work for), gave $105,000. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, which uses imported hemp oil in its products and whose current CEO, David Bronner, was arrested protesting for marijuana reform in front of the White House earlier this year, gave $75,000. Henry van Ameringen, a New York LGBTQ rights advocate and heir to the largest fragrance and flavor company in the world, gave $50,000. William H. Clapp of the anti-poverty Seattle International Foundation gave $35,000. Retired class action lawyer Judith Bendich gave $30,000. Environmentalist Nancy Nordhoff gave $25,000. Seattle attorney Peter Goldman gave $15,000. Seattle environmentalist William Pope gave $11,000. Investor Rene Ruiz gave $11,000. Former Microsoft researcher George Heidorn gave $7,500. George Alfred Zimmer, co-founder and current chairman of Men's Warehouse, gave $2,500. The list goes on, and includes pockets that range from deep to relatively modest.
As for the roughly $16,000 spent by opponents of I-502? More than $9,000 of it came from medical marijuana dispensaries concerned about the initiative's DUID ("driving under the influence of drugs") provision, which could expose patients who drive with THC in their system--though not necessarily while high--to police harassment. The largest single contribution from a dispensary opposed to I-502--which went to the Safe Access Alliance--was $2,500; the largest single contribution from a private citizen opposed to I-502--which went to No on 502--was $1,800.
In other words, not only did opponents of legalization in Washington not have a Peter Lewis or George Soros on their side; they didn't really have anyone else either.