Contributions are one of the most essential components to any campaign – but they are especially important for those hoping to pass a ballot initiative. The more funding you have, the more people will hear your message in the end. Unfortunately, most of the time, the campaigns trying to legalize marijuana are funded mostly by citizens, small businesses and maybe one or two larger organizations here and there – while their opposition’s campaigns tend to be funded by millionaires and big corporations who believe they have a reason to oppose such a change. One such millionaire who has now donated over $5 million or more against legalization initiatives across the nation is Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson.
Known to be the 12th richest man in America and worth $29 billion dollars, Adelson has been actively putting money towards campaigns to stop the legalization of cannabis for a while now. In 2014, he donated the $5 million that gave Drug Free Florida their advantage in the end, most likely the reason we lost Amendment 2 by a mere 2% of the vote that year. This year, he has spent another $5 million – spread out across four different states out of the 9 which currently have marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballot.
Adelson gave $2 million to the opposition in his home state of Nevada – and just in case that wasn’t enough, he bought out the Las Vegas Review Journal for $140 million. The paper had previously given their endorsement to the legalization initiative, and it was revoked when Adelson bought them out. If you think about it, that was $142 million dollars spent, all to try and keep prohibition up and running.
In the rest of the country, he has so far donated $1 million to the opposition of Question 1 in Massachusetts and $1.5 million to Florida – $1 million of which was used to air television ads against Amendment 2 before United for Care could get their ads up and running. He also just donated $500,000 this week to the No on Prop 205 campaign in Arizona – probably making him the biggest donor opposing cannabis legalization on a national scale.
If you were wondering what would make someone like Adelson, a casino owner who could likely make money off of cannabis legalization in his home state, want to keep it illegal; apparently, he believes in the now disproven gateway drug theory – and after losing a son to a drug overdose, he has now made it his business to keep marijuana on the black market. It’s unfortunate when this kind of misinformation of the past can make someone like Adelson, who could benefit from legalization more than he realizes, pour money into the opposition instead.