Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has done his utmost to derail the marijuana legalization movement. He almost single-handedly defeated medical marijuana in Florida in 2014 and has come back this election cycle with a vengeance, donating money to anti-legalization groups in Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and Arizona.
Last year Adelson even bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal – a newspaper whose editorial board had long supported cannabis law reform – and pressured them into changing their stance; which they did.
In other words, Sheldon Adelson has spent a great deal of money on a singular goal: stopping marijuana legalization, whether medical or otherwise. But why?
Adelson is notoriously conservative, but so are a lot of billionaires; he’s the only one dumping this kind of money into efforts to derail marijuana law reform. So what’s going on?
From Keith Stroup at NORML: One cannot help but wonder what would motivate an individual to want to continue a failed public policy that results in the needless arrest of so many of our fellow citizens. In Adelson’s case, it was apparently a personal family tragedy. His 48-year-old son, Mitchell, died in 2005 of a drug overdose involving cocaine and heroin. Another son, Gary, has also struggled with drug addiction and is allegedly estranged from his father altogether. Adelson has said he sees marijuana as a “gateway drug” that led to his sons’ problems.
So Adelson sees his anti-marijuana crusade as some sort of ode to his sons? A way to “save” others from the fate that befell his family? The fact that the “gateway theory” has been thoroughly debunked likely matters little to someone like Adelson. I would assume he is not used to having his opinions challenged, or at least he hasn’t been for a number of years.
Luckily legalization proponents have a lot of money on their side as well, along with an army of young people and the Internet. What happened to Adelson’s son is tragic, but nothing gives him the right to force his beliefs on people who are not infringing on the rights of anyone else.