Sheldon Adelson donated $2.5 million to the No campaign

This, I have to say, is a little weird.

Sheldon Adelson, billionare Las Vegas mogul and veteran of the Scissor Sheldon campaign, has decided to take a stand against medical marijuana in Florida — an issue that has 70% support among likely Florida voters in the November election.

Legendary purveyor of vice Adelson made his donation to a group called the Drug Free Florida Committee, headed by veteran Republican fundraiser Mel Sembler.  “Its top donors have been primarily Republicans” according to the Miami Herald.  You don’t say.

The Florida Sherrif’s Association has also joined the (I kid you not) “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” coalition:

“This amendment as a matter of fact is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

He warned that the proposed amendment is “cleverly-written” for “use and abuse,” will lead to children legally obtaining marijuana and predicted crime rates will soar.

“You will pay more taxes because it’s going to take more policing,’’ he said.

Now none of these things have come true in any state where recreational marijuana has already been legalized, let alone medical marijuana.

So why would a carpetbagger like Adelson decide to take a stand in Florida?  Why not Washington or Colorado where actual legalization was on the ballot, and the issue polled a lot closer?

Just taking a wild-arsed guess here, but it may have something to do with the fact that Adelson is “a heavy contributor to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election effort.”

Adelson’s contribution “not only juices the anti-marijuana movement, it effectively brings the medical marijuana debate into this year’s governor’s race” says the Herald.

There has been some evidence that having marijuana legalization on the ballot can drive young voter turnout, and Rick Scott’s campaign may well be worried that the medical marijuana initiative could translate into people who otherwise wouldn’t vote showing up and voting against him. Although I don’t know that it’s ever been proven that having medical marijuana on the ballot has made a significant difference.

Regardless, the country as a whole is overwhelmingly supportive of medical marijuana legalization across all parties, races and age groups.  And even though polling tends to narrow as election time draws near,  Sheldon’s $2.5 million will have to make a huge dent in that 70% support level to have any chance of success.

On the other hand, it might just be a way to spur turnout among older voters who are more likely to vote for Scott, and tend to be less supportive of medical marijuana — having endured a lifetime of demagogurey on the subject.

Meanwhile, in other weird news, Democratic Florda Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is being targeted in ads and by donors because she doesn’t support the medical marijuana initiative.  Which seems a whole lot more reasonable, considering the overwhelming popularity of the initiative with voters in the state.

Photo by under Creative Commons license

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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