PHOENIX (AP) — The latest major donation to the campaign against legal recreational marijuana in Arizona came from Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who donated $500,000 last week.
Adelson joined the ranks of other business owners who have funded Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which opposes Proposition 205. The campaign has raised about $4.3 million to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Adelson gave about $5 million in 2014 to oppose medical marijuana in Florida and this year has spent $2 million opposing recreational pot in Nevada, his home state, and $1 million to oppose it in Massachusetts. Adelson and his wife founded a nonprofit drug abuse treatment and research clinic in 2000.
The campaign has gotten other major donations, including $1 million from Discount Tire Co. on Oct. 12. Insys Therapeutics, a Chandler-based pharmaceutical company developing medicinal cannabinoids, gave $500,000 in August.
“We’re grateful for every donation we receive to help stop this bad policy from becoming law – and we’re proud to have the strong backing of business leaders and philanthropists, like the Adelsons, who understand the disastrous consequences of passing Prop 205,” said Annie Vogt, spokeswoman for the No on Prop 205 campaign.
Barrett Marson, a spokesman for Proposition 205, said Adelson wants people to be his guest if they like drinking alcohol and playing blackjack at casinos.
“But he wants to put you in jail if your preference is to consume marijuana while playing video games in the privacy of your home. The hypocrisy is disappointing,” Marson said in a statement.
Prop. 205 makes recreational pot legal for adults 21 and older, allowing them to use, possess, manufacture and give away or transport up to an ounce of marijuana. It creates a new state Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which will have the authority to license and regulate the marijuana market.
The proposition also allows a resident to each grow up to six marijuana plants at home.
The Prop. 205 campaign says legalized pot will result in safer communities and more money for schools. They say legal marijuana will eliminate the black market, weaken drug cartels and allow police to focus on more serious crimes.
Carlos Alfaro, deputy campaign manager, says legalization in states like Colorado and Washington has already led to a drop in marijuana seizures along the border. He says prohibition on marijuana is not an effective tool.
Opponents say legalization will lead to a host of new problems, including an increase in teen use, marijuana-related vehicle accidents, decreased local authority and more criminal organizations.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, a member of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, says police will have no way of knowing how much marijuana is actually being grown in a home because the smell would not be probable cause to search.
She also pointed to a major drug sting in southern Colorado in September that netted over 22,000 pounds of marijuana that a criminal organization planned to sell in states where marijuana is still illegal.
Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012 and also allows small home grows.