Casino interests, led by conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson, are providing the the vast majority of funds for the effort to defeat marijuana legalization in Nevada.
Adelson, owner of The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, dropped $2 million into the leading opposition committee, Protecting Nevada’s Children, according to campaign finance records filed late Tuesday night.
The money from Adelson, who Forbes says is the 21st richest person in the world, accounts for more than 95 percent of all funds the prohibitionist committee has raised to date.
But the casino magnate has done more to defeat Nevada’s legalization measure than just cut checks to the opposition committee. Late last year, he bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, the editorial board of which has long supported ending prohibition. But despite endorsing this year’s legalization measure when it was in its signature gathering phase, the editorial board switched its position after their new owner took over and now opposes the same measure it once supported. That was after Adelson and his wife Miriam urged editorial board members to visit a drug rehab facility to witness the alleged horrors of marijuana use up close.
Earlier this month, Adelson donated $1 million to defeat a marijuana legalization measure in Massachusetts.
A staunch opponent of not just legalizing marijuana but also of allowing its medical use, Adelson donated the lion’s share of funds in opposition to a medical cannabis initiative that was narrowly defeated by Florida voters in 2014. He has also given $1.5 million to defeat a similar medical marijuana measure that Floridians will decide on next month.
Joining Adelson in funding the legal marijuana opposition in Nevada are the South Point Hotel & Casino, which gave $50,000; MGM Resorts International, which contributed $25,000 and the Boyd Gaming Corporation, which is in for $10,000. Also, the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa Casino gave $1,500 and the Atlantis Casino & Resort dropped $1,000 to support continued cannabis prohibition.
Recent polling has shown the marijuana legalization measure ahead, but by differing margins. A Suffolk University survey last month found Question 2 leading among likely voters by a margin of 57 percent to 33 percent. But a more recent poll commissioned by the Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal showed the measure ahead by just one point, with 47 percent of likely voters in favor and 46 percent against.
A separate opposition committee, SAM Action, Inc., received $30,000 earlier this year from Julie Schauer, a retired art professor who believes that violence and terrorists attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Aurora movie theater shooting can be partially blamed on marijuana. The group disclosed on Tuesday that it hasn’t raised any additional funds in the most recent reporting period, but has spent some of Schauer’s money on polling.
The two leading committees supporting the Nevada legal marijuana measure reported that they have raised $2,145,145.45 this year, just slightly more than the total $2,118,500.00 the opposition committees have brought in.
The next campaign finance reports are due November 4, just four days before the election.
Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.