Billionares’ Money Keeps on Flowing into Massachusetts’ Question 4 Debate

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photo by East Coast Gambler on Flickr/Creative Commons

Much of what the future holds should voters decide to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts is open to interpretation.

But one thing that is certainly true is, whatever happens come this November when the state votes on Question 4, the winning side will have deep-pocketed out-of-state donors to thank for their help.

The latest infusion of outside cash, this time to the ‘No’ camp, has come from Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate originally from Dorchester. He has just given $1 million to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, the anti-legalization group tells the Globe.

A statement from Jim Conroy, campaign spokesman:

We are grateful for the support of Mr. Adelson, a Massachusetts native, who with his wife Dr. Miriam has been a long-time anti-addiction advocate. His generosity will prove critical in preventing a billion-dollar marijuana industry from establishing a foothold in our communities.

It appears to mark the biggest donation to the anti-legalization cause to date. No on 4, according to the most recent records available from the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance, had about $634,000 in its account at the beginning of October.

The next reports on how much either side has raised, and from whom, are due on Thursday.

In addition to his casinos, Adelson has a number of ventures to his credit: a proposed NFL stadium, a stake in the newspaper business, and an addiction recovery clinic in Vegas. He is also a major GOP donor who last month committed $5 million to the campaign for Donald Trump.

On Monday, pro-legalization advocates in Massachusetts lined up to criticize Adelson’s involvement in the campaign:

‘[W]ealthy right-wing donors like Adelson will not be able to stop voters saying Yes to regulating marijuana,’ said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, in a statement.

‘My bet is on the Massachusetts voters, not a Trump-supporting casino magnate,’ said Rep. David Rodgers, also in a statement.

Yes on 4 has received about $3.7 million in funding, OCPF records show. Its donors include the Washington, D.C.-based New Approach PAC, a pro-pot group supported by billionaires including Facebook’s Sean Parker, which has given more than $2 million in Massachusetts.

The No on 4 camp has criticized that donation as well. Here’s what campaign manager Nick Bayer said last month:

It is clear that the Question 4 campaign is being almost entirely bankrolled by out-of-state billionaires seeking to establish a commercial marijuana industry that will be focused on profits, not the well-being of Massachusetts families.

Graham Boyd, the New Approach’s director, has said that a fraction—”less than 5 percent“—of its funding comes from the pot industry.

Both Adelson and New Approach have been contributing to either side of marijuana legalization campaigns in states around the country.

Meanwhile, fundraising for Question 2, the ballot initiative that would lift the cap on charter schools in the state, continues to reach new heights. Both sides on that debate have raised more than $22 million so far.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2016/10/17/sheldon-adelson-marijuana-massachusetts/