George Zimmer, Ousted Men's Wearhouse Founder, Was Marijuana Reform Bankroller

Someone else is gonna have to bankroll pot now
The signature gravelly patter of George Zimmer sent many a man scurrying into one of his Men's Wearhouses and into a newly purchased suit.

And there's more than being nattily dressed for which to thank the East Bay man, who was ousted from his position at the company he founded 40 years ago: There's medical marijuana and, if and when it happens, legalized cannabis.

Zimmer was California's most-generous donor to Proposition 215, the country's first medical marijuana law approved by voters in 1996. He also donated heavily to 2010's failed legalization initiative, Proposition 19.

Where else can we find such a generous supporter of drug legalization? Hint: environmentalists don't like it. Double hint: it's Sean Parker!

Zimmer was removed from his position as executive chairman by the Men's Wearhouse board on Wednesday. It's still unclear why. Zimmer, who owns 1.8 million shares of stock in the company for a 3.5 percent total stake, was the company's founder as well as its instantly recognizable pitchman.

While nobody is more responsible for funding marijuana reform in America than George Soros -- who plunked down $2 million for Prop. 19 in 2010, according to records, and donated $550,000 to the Compassionate Use Act's campaign in 1996 -- Zimmer opened up his wallet big for cannabis.

Zimmer donated $100,000 to Prop. 215, which made California the first state in the union to allow the medical use of marijuana by sick people. That was the biggest single donation by any Californian, the LA Times reported.

Zimmer also donated $50,000 to Prop. 19 in 2010.

Marijuana legalization -- and reform, for that matter -- is more or less stalled in California at the moment.

There are a pair of bills making their way (slowly) through the state Legislature, but the one that would make changes of substance -- Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's effort to put all of California's cannabis dispensaries under state control -- is encountering difficulty.

And after Prop. 19's failure, no eager billionaire has emerged ready to bankroll another go at it. This may change now that Colorado and Washington both approved legalization initiatives -- and if it does, look for cannabis legalization pushers to go back to Silicon Valley for start-up money.

Which brings us to Sean Parker. The Napster co-founder and early Facebook investor -- much-maligned in the media of late for his controversial Big Sur wedding -- plunked down $200,000 in support of Proposition 19, putting him ahead of Zimmer and closer to Soros territory than nearly anyone else who tried to make California the first state to re-legalize pot use for adults.

Consider that the next time you excoriate the billionaire.

My Voice Nation Help

Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body.  Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws.  I drew up a very cool poster featuring Uncle Willie Nelson and The Teapot Party for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at  Drop in and let me know what you think!

mrericsir topcommenter

You're gonna like the way you look after you smoke this joint.  I guarantee it.


Dislike drugs of all kinds, but support the legalization of marijuana.  California needs tax revenue and  decriminalization will reduce the prison population.  Who besides growers, prison construction and control agencies still support the current legislation?


"The signature gravelly pater"? I don't know why you're bringing his father into this.


@ben09  'Patter' not 'Pater', Ben. I take greater umbrage at 'gravelly'. He sounds like you'd expect Moses to sound like - resonant, deep, and since you brought it up, paternal.

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