Why Is Sheldon Adelson Opposing Medical Marijuana?

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: June 16, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

When you're the eighth richest man on the planet, promoting casinos out of one side of your mouth and opposing drugs out of the other is neither irony nor hypocrisy -- it's eccentricity.

Still, how strange to see Sheldon Adelson of Nevada, chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., sink $2.5 million into fighting Amendment 2, of all things, a Florida ballot issue looking to legalize medical marijuana.

Stranger still when you realize Adelson's own medical research organization, the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, produced a study in December showing that medical marijuana has the potential to help those suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Look closely at Adelson and you'll see a man who likes to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. 

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

For example, he's all about casino gambling -- the Las Vegas Sands Corp. is the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited, which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Yet, he puts up a fierce fight against Internet gambling on moral and ethical grounds. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, here's how he explains the difference between the two: "Coming from the business, I want to make money from those who can afford it. I can't tell over the Internet who is underage. I can't tell who's got financial difficulties. I can't tell who is not gaming responsibly. I can't tell if money is being laundered. I can in the casino."

Adelson is a Republican who used to be a Democrat. In fact, he still is a social liberal -- women have a right to choose, same-sex couples should be free to marry in every state, same-sex couples should be able to adopt children, he says. After shelling out $93 million in 2012 for Republican campaigns, Adelson is building a new bridge to the Dems. He has expanded his stable of Democratic consultants to include California's charismatic former Democratic Assembly leader Fabian Nunez and former Clinton adviser Chris Lehane.

Adelson is one of the few Republican billionaires Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid can stomach. In fact, the Washington Post's Tom Hamburger says he and Reid -- both from Nevada -- remain friends. Reid apparently makes the case that there's a big difference between the casino entrepreneur and the billionaire Koch brothers, whom he can't stick. Reid says the Kochs seek to influence climate and other policy for their own financial benefit, Adelson does not.

"I know Sheldon Adelson. He's not in this for money," Reid said of Adelson's political and philanthropic causes. "He's got money. He's in it because he has certain ideological views." 

One of his longtime associates, speaking from Nevada on the condition of anonymity, corroborated Reid's theory about Adelson's motives: "He has $37 billion and he's looking at his 81st birthday in August," the associate told Sunshine State News. "I don't see him as much as I used to. But these days more than anything, Sheldon lets his stomach and his heart do his thinking for him. He does what he thinks and feels is right for himself and his friends. He's got a very strong moral and ethical streak."

My take on what's going on with Adelson can be summed up in two words: Mel Sembler.

Sembler, the GOP fundraiser, St. Petersburg anti-drug crusader, ambassador to Italy who couldn't speak a word of Italian -- and, oh, yes, the founder of drug-rehab-program-from-hell STRAIGHT Inc. -- is one of Adelson's oldest friends. 

I've written a couple of times about STRAIGHT Inc. and its prisoner-of-war-style torture, unrelenting cover-ups and subsequent suicides. But Sembler has always defended the program, the tactics and the need to deal harshly with teens using -- even suspected of using -- drugs. My guess is, it was Sembler who went to work hustling money out of Adelson to oppose Amendment 2, and Adelson capitulated. 

Think about it. Adelson has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marijuana research to get a single breakthrough on multiple sclerosis. His institute has been cautious. He's going the Food and Drug Administration route. Now, all of a sudden, he's shown a loosely written ballot amendment, penned and backed by a rich and powerful Democratic lawyer (John Morgan) trying to buy a governor (Charlie Crist) in the process -- plus maybe work out some extra goodies for himself.

You can imagine, with Sembler's special twist how that would offend Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson stopped giving money to Rick Scott a while back, according to newspaper stories. He and the governor had a falling out over Scott's gaming negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. So, Adelson just happened to have an extra $2.5 million lying around.

By his own account on Bloomberg Television, Adelson wants to control sin "when possible." He wants to regulate illegal activities like prostitution, drug abuse and gambling by minors. It's a rich old man's fancy. I'm not saying I agree with him, but I do suspect his motives are purer than either Sembler's or Morgan's. 

My theory is this -- and that's all it is, a theory --  Sheldon Adelson is convinced John Morgan's amendment is a free-for-all invitation not to cure disease or lessen suffering, but to legalize what he believes (with a little help from his friend Mel Sembler) is an out-of-control and destructive way of life.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. 

Comments (17)

5:05PM JUN 16TH 2014
Adelson is "contributing" his 2.5 million $$ for one reason only-a quid pro pro agreement with Scott and the Repugs in Florida. Adelson doesn't give a rat's posterior about the pros or cons of marijuana; he is trying to buy permission from Floriduh's Republican legislative majority to expand his casinos and gambling enterprises in the State. I have no objection to the casinos; however, I DO object strenuously to anyone who is allowed to bribe a legislative body solely for personal gain. I support Amendment 2 as written. Bondi, Scott, Gaetz, Weatherford and friends have done their damnedest to try to keep the citizens of this State from expressing their opinions on the status of medical marijuana. First, they stated that the voters in Florida were too ignorant to be able to understand the language in the ballot. that language was carefully crafted and narrowly defined the situations under which a physician, NOT a politician, would be able to prescribe marijuana for any medical use.The Fl. Supreme court concurred with those who sued and decreed that the language in the Amendment-AS WRITTEN-was sufficiently clear for the average Fl. voter to understand. The State's argument against even having this proposal on the ballot was and continues to be nothing more than their attempts to keep the revenue streams flowing for certain of the private interests in Florida. Those who stand to lose when this Amendment passes are the ones opposing-the Sheriff's Association, the drug-testing industry, Big Pharma, the prison industry and others will see a drop in income. The flawed arguments they are all using can be dismissed with fact-based rebuttals. Every one of their talking points have been proven to be wrong-the statistics back it up.
I find the fact that it wasn't until Scott, Gaetz et. al. finally realized the huge amount of public support that legalization garnered that the Repugs and Scott cried copious crocodile tears and beat their collective chests while they decided that they would, after all, show compassion and allow an extremely limited group to legally possess and use the strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web .After all, the "leaders" in Floriduh couldn't be shown as letting babies and young children with epilepsy die simply because THEY opposed this drug, now could they? Hence the about-face with Scott announcing that he would sign THAT bill with the good wishes from both Papa and Baby Gaetz, Weatherford and the rest of that hypocritical pack of liars. And NOW-those who oppose allowing all the others in this State who would benefit greatly from marijuana received a huge surplus in funding in Adelson's strange gift of 2.5 million $$.
I can only hope that the voters in this State will think about just who stands to gain financially if this Amendment fails. We already know who will lose-those with debilitating diseases, such as cancer, MS, Parkinson's-a veritable host of neurological disorders in which marijuana has proven effective BY the GOVERNMENT who holds the PATENT on all MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF MARIJUANA. Educate yourselves instead of blind belief in the opposition's twaddle they are trying to peddle as truth. If not, you deserve the "Sheeple" descriptive that is applied to those who blindly follow without question.
Will the voters in Florida allow politics to needlessly trump pain that so many suffer ? Why in the world would ANYONE allow another to suffer when there is a proven alternative ? Have we become so immured to letting others do our thinking that we cannot think for ourselves?
12:55PM JUN 16TH 2014
Dear Mr. Adelson,

Let's be Americans and let each person decide whether or not they can afford to do business with you.
Florida MMTC Institute
10:43AM JUN 16TH 2014
Thanks, Nancy for helping to get the word out on this! We had just uncovered the same information in our blog a few days ago (however, we did call him a hypocrite!)
9:59AM JUN 16TH 2014
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

just wouldn't be a true fight without Sheldon on the other side...hope he's enjoying the medical marijuana craze in his home state of Nevada, cheers buddy....WEST COAST CONNECTION trumps all your $$$

ENLIGHTENMENT...i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old...i hated gays, immigrants, women's rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh's #1 fan....until i smoked marijuana....changed the world

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country(now the majority), from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: MillionsDeaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

Calm yourself
9:02AM NOV 6TH 2014
Do you really think no one has ever died from smoking weed? And where the hell did you get millions from with all your stats? It's people like you that kill the creditiblity of this. Don't be an idiot. Weed does not cure racism and prejudices
calm down it's going to pass
3:20PM JUN 16TH 2014
Because all the right people are going for it. Won't it be something if CharLIE Crist rides back into the governor's mansion on the coat tails of John Morgan and his medical marijuana schemes.........

Stranger things have happened lately. The real people know what the aggressive conservative's run by Jeb Bush have been up to for decades and they are sick and tired of it.

Much like running a daylight strike against the people. jeb Bush and Rick Scott's long connections are well known to millions by now!

But the straw that broke the camel's back was Jeb's long involvement with COMMON CORE as well as Charter School conversion's many with connections to Gulen and many others spear headed by one Gary Grappo who was once appointed ambassador to Omen by Bush (43)

On the Charter School conversions he even tried twice to get the legislature to pass his "parent trigger" bill which would allow him and Jim Horne to use the power of disgruntled parents to convert their childs schools to this charter friends.
Malcolm Kyle
9:50AM JUN 16TH 2014
Health Organizations Supporting Immediate Legal Access to Medical Marijuana


AIDS Action Council

AIDS Treatment News

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Medical Student Association

American Nurses Association

American Preventive Medical Association

American Public Health Association

American Society of Addiction Medicine

Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)

Australian Medical Association (New South Wales) Limited

Australian National Task Force on Cannabis

Belgian Ministry of Health

British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology

British House of Lords Select Committee On Science and Technology (Second

British Medical Association

Canadian AIDS Society

Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs

Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)

French Ministry of Health

Health Canada

Kaiser Permanente

Lymphoma Foundation of America

The Montel Williams MS Foundation

Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)

The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)

National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine (IOM)

National Association for Public Health Policy

National Nurses Society on Addictions

Netherlands Ministry of Health

New England Journal of Medicine

New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis
for Medical Purposes

Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)


Alaska Nurses Association

Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)

California Academy of Family Physicians

California Nurses Association

California Pharmacists Association

Colorado Nurses Association

Connecticut Nurses Association

Florida Governor's Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS

Florida Medical Association

Hawaii Nurses Association

Illinois Nurses Association

Life Extension Foundation

Medical Society of the State of New York

Mississippi Nurses Association

New Jersey State Nurses Association

New Mexico Medical Society

New Mexico Nurses Association

New York County Medical Society

New York State Nurses Association

North Carolina Nurses Association

Rhode Island Medical Society

Rhode Island State Nurses Association

San Francisco Mayor's Summit on AIDS and HIV

San Francisco Medical Society

Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee

Virginia Nurses Association 

Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)

Wisconsin Nurses Association
9:37AM JUN 16TH 2014
Please Vote YES on Amendment 2. Thank You
9:12AM JUN 16TH 2014
He is on the losing side this time! As a gambler you would think he would make bigger bets. However, the only way he can get a casino in Florida is to help the GOP so they owe him a favor. It won't work ..

VOTE YES on #2! Get everyone out to vote!

Looking to work in the Medical Marijuana Industry? Check out HempStaff
Craig Quirolo
8:29AM JUN 16TH 2014
Of all the terrible things that are going on in this country smoking pot is not one of them.
8:24AM JUN 16TH 2014
"Reid said of Adelson's political and philanthropic causes, "He's got money. He's in it because he has certain ideological views.""

But only if it is people with money who support Reid's certain ideological views - and as this article outlines...

"Adelson is a Republican who used to be a Democrat. In fact, he still is a social liberal -- women have a right to choose, same-sex couples should be free to marry in every state, same-sex couples should be able to adopt children"

So Reid will stomach him...
Fran k
8:15AM JUN 16TH 2014
The hypocracy of people in power is really disgusting. Harry Reid for example is a bonafide whack job. Gambling is ok, smoking tobacco is ok, drinking alcohol is ok, losing one's entire life in a casino is ok...but

Using marijuana is not..............PATHETIC!!!!

Maybe we'll get it right in the next revolution, but I doubt it. Mankind is doomed to his own folly, over and over and over again.
5:34AM JUN 16TH 2014
He is buying support for his casinos to move into FLA,,he is also a major contributor to medical marijuana research in Israel,,,it is always about the money.
Brian Kelly
4:21AM JUN 16TH 2014
Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, - Your Days Are Numbered. Find new careers before you don't have one.
Brian Kelly
4:21AM JUN 16TH 2014
Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, - Your Days Are Numbered. Find new careers before you don't have one.
Brian Kelly
4:20AM JUN 16TH 2014
Fear of Medical Marijuana Legalization is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever.

So please, all prohibitionists, we beg you, give your scare tactics, "Conspiracy Theories" and "Doomsday Scenarios" over the inevitable Legalization of Medical Marijuana a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of Medical Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it is obviously defective.

The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol and definitely so much less dangerous than handfuls of deadly, toxic, made-,made, highly addictive, narcotic pain pills and other pharmaceuticals .

If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about "saving us all" from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and or practice a little live and let live. They'll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.
Brian Kelly
4:19AM JUN 16TH 2014
"[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane." — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, "Federal Foolishness and Marijuana," editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

"[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications." — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

"[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate." — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

"Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision." — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

"The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses' Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine." — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

"[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use." — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, "Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis," 1995

"When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug." — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

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