Sheldon Adelson Attacks Nevada Question 2 For Legal Weed With Polls, Press And Millions Of Dollars

Zachary Volkert

On Nov. 8, the Nevada Question 2 poll will decide whether or not the state approves of legal recreational weed; but Sheldon Adelson is funneling millions of dollars into campaigning and buying press influence to try to make sure that doesn't happen.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Sheldon had donated $2 million to Protecting Nevada's Children, the primary opposition group to Question 2. Adelson's bet on the Nevada measure came to light through campaign finance records.

It's an action not just limited to Nevada's Question 2, but actually several states around the nation where Sheldon's impressive net worth is being used to influence public policy. In Massachusetts, where Adelson was born, he pledged $1 million to anti-marijuana group Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts.

Of course, Sheldon's link with Nevada goes beyond birthplace or even residency. Adelson is perhaps the leading casino mogul of the Las Vegas strip, but it's his name on the national political stage that he may be most known for, and Question 2 is definitely not his first time at the craps table.

In fact, Sheldon is actually the biggest GOP donor of the 2016 election according to Open Secrets. Adelson and his wife Miriam have donated more than $260 million to political campaigning this year.

— Las Vegas Sun (@LasVegasSun) October 7, 2016

In the time since Sheldon made his new acquisition, the Review-Journal has done a complete 180 on their stance for Nevada's Question 2. After years of support for making weed legal both medicinally and recreationally, the editorial board rescinded their support after Adelson and his wife pushed for the editorial board to visit drug treatment centers in order to influence their opinion.

In June, the paper released their new Sheldon Adelson-approved opinion on the topic: One that lambasted Question 2 as a decision that would lead to out-of-control emergency room visits and widespread addiction.

"Legalizing weed would jeopardize the health of countless Nevadans, expose more people to drug abuse and addiction, put excessive stress on the state's health-care facilities and do little to relieve the state's bloated prison population... Expanding legal access to pot, however, would be a bad move for the Silver State. Voters should "just say no" to [Question 2] legalizing recreational marijuana on Election Day."
"This position [supporting legalization] is taken not only because of the supreme costs related to policing, prosecuting and incarcerating drug offenders — not to mention the tragic (and preventable) cost in human lives — but also due to inescapable fact that no amount of government pressure has ever reduced demand for illegal drugs in the United States. In fact, it has done the exact opposite... We must end the war on drugs."
"Most Nevadans are already wary of [Sheldon], and now they are probably even more so given how glaring the hypocrisy is in this case. This is a guy who has made a fortune pushing booze on casino-goers, but wants to keep a much less harmful product illegal. Hopefully the Review-Journal will keep Adelson's opinion confined to the opinion section and not let it leak into its news coverage."

It's hard to say where Nevada Question 2 polls will land come election day. While one poll from Suffolk University released at the end of September showed a huge shift toward a win for the measure, the paper Sheldon Adelson owns released a new one just a few days ago that also shows a victory, but by just one percent.

[Featured Image by Win McNamee and Ron Wurzer/Getty Images]