Gates loves it, Bloomberg doesn't. Can't win 'em all …
Let’s be honest, regardless of what side of the coin a billionaire is on, they’re smart enough to not only earn that boat-load of cash they bathe in, but also to keep those assets growing.
Each year, Forbes' annual top 10 richest people in the world list never comes as much of a surprise — Bloomberg, Buffet, Gates — they’ve all been there before. But this is a changing world, and to meet the demand of consumers that pay their salaries, those rich people have to adapt. And no more controversial industry has popped up in the last few years than pot. So we wondered, how are these dudes changing in the face of an unignorable product nipping at their golden heels?
T9. David & Charles Koch, ages 75, 80 – $39.6 billion
Since being embroiled in a heated legal battle defending himself against 97 felonies, Charles Koch has been outspoken about reform in the system. Since, he’s donated millions to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to give defendants a better chance at winning against a brutal and unfair system. While his views on weed outside of justice reform are unclear, his brother David has been more outspoken about it. In Jared Carlson’s book, Billionaire Breakdown: A Look at the Wealthiest People in the World, he said: “I have friends who smoke pot… It’s ridiculous to treat them as criminals.” The two also financially back Generation Opportunity, an organization that fought for the release of a non-violent drug offender who was sentenced to spend 55 years of his life behind bars for selling weed.
8. Michael Bloomberg, age 74 – $40 billion
When asked whether or not he ever smoked weed when he was younger, Bloomberg excitedly replied: “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it!” Later, he regretted making the comment, calling it “the truth” — but that he wished he wasn’t quoted on it. He’s since called Colorado’s legalization efforts, “one of the stupider things that’s happening across our country,” and maintains that medical uses for cannabis are a hoax. “Yeah, right, medical, come on," he’s said. "There's no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of all times."
7. Larry Ellison, age 71 – $43.6 billion
It’s currently unknown whether or not the Oracle founder and current CTO dabbles in anything himself (billionaires tend to be secretive of their personal affairs), but he did make a generous donation of $200 million to the University of Southern California — which launched the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine, a research facility specializing in prevention and treatment of cancer. With California’s newly legalized recreational system and historically liberal approach to pot, it’s at least feasible the institute has discussed the probability of cannabis and its rumored effect on cancer cells. Our best guess is that anything helping cancer patients is fine with him.
6. Mark Zuckerberg, age 31 – $44.6 billion
Former Facebook employee Katherine Losse is very clear in her book, The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network, about Zuckerberg’s views on drugs: “I shuddered to think what he would have thought of the nights in Brazil in 2005 when our Hopkins student group danced samba until morning, fueled by caipirinhas and the local beer. Some of us even did lines of coke in the bathroom. Mark would have passed out on sight. He hated drugs. I was told that he’d go pale at just the thought of them. At Facebook, we all knew never to even mention the word drugs near him.” His company policies don’t reflect that of an accepting environment either, often pulling down business pages and not selling ads to dispensaries. He has stated, however, that he’s against U.S. policies that jail people for something as simple as smoking weed.
5. Jeff Bezos, age 52 – $45.2 billion
In 2013, Amazon founder and multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post, an outlet NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre once called “barely more than a government organ; a ‘rip-n-read’ anti-pot propaganda machine.” Since, the paper has came out stating it’s reviewing its drug policy in response to legalization in the state. A Fortune article published in June of last year states that Bezos’ personal position on marijuana is unclear, however he tends to lean libertarian in most cases and is one business that would profit exponentially if national legalization were a thing and Amazon drones could deliver an 1/8 right to your doorstep.
Score: Likely green
4. Carlos Slim Helu, age 76 – $50.6 billion
Carlos Slim is Mexico’s wealthiest man by a mile, with interests in education, health care, industrial manufacturing, transportation, real estate, technology … the list goes on. But it’s complete conjecture to say whether or not he would approve of a legalized system in Mexico. As a patriot, he loves his country, saying that if “society were to tell me to get out of business, I would do it.” But they wouldn’t, Mexico loves him too, many hoping he’ll be the leader of the country one day — but that’s something Slim has said he wants no part of. Our guess? A legalized system in Mexico would damage the cartels, a destructive force the country can’t seem to neutralize. It would be big money too, something the ruthless businessman would likely have no problem jumping into.
3. Warren Buffet, age 85 – $60.8 billion
We’re not entirely sure the man has smoked weed himself (Warren, if you’re reading this, text and let us know), but his companies are jumping all over the boom. Cubic Designs Incorporated, an offshoot of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is a company that builds layers inside of warehouses to maximize floor space. In one marketing push, the company sent out thousands of fliers to Colorado and Washington grows in an effort to get in where the gettin’s good. That probably didn't happen without his knowledge.
Score: Likely green
2. Amancio Ortega, age 79 – $67 billion
The notoriously quiet co-founder of Zara, a Spanish clothing and accessories brand, has no known paper trail of his support or disdain of cannabis. He is, however, from and based out of one of the more liberally focused countries with regards to cannabis. Per the Canna Law Blog, the city of Barcelona has more than 200 cannabis clubs around the city. Spain’s rules about it are pretty lax too, deeming it perfectly legal to consume it so long as you’re not selling it. Our best guess is that Ortega is either indifferent to the plant, or supports it. Bird of a feather, and all of that.
1. Bill Gates, age 60 – $75 billion
As one of the filthiest, richest men in the world (leading the list 17 out of the past 22 years), Bill Gates holds no reservations in publicly supporting legalized cannabis, even telling the media that he proudly voted ‘yes’ on Washington’s I-502 measure — the very one that put recreational weed in the hands of adults in his home state. Why? Because drug traffickers “are going to make a lot less money, and some of the perverse things about the illegal drug trade will be avoided,” he said. But he’s also smart, and sees the potential for astronomical growth. His company Microsoft recently partnered with KIND Financial, a startup software company that specializes in cannabis tracking and compliance.
Score: Green as hell