Sheldon Adelson, the mega-rich casino magnate who last week donated $2.5 million to the anti-Amendment 2 group Drug Free Florida, also happens to have his own medical research group.
And according to that group's own studies, medical marijuana has been shown to aid those who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
According to the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, a study released just last year found that CBD and THC helped ease the swelling in the spinal cord and brain in lab mice that had similar diseases to MS.
The study, published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, was conducted by the Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute of Science, which believe the results would be the same for patients with MS.
"Inflammation is part of the body's natural immune response, but in cases like MS, it gets out of hand," says Drs. Ewa Kozela, co-author of the study. "Our study looks at how compounds isolated from marijuana can be used to regulate inflammation to protect the nervous system and its functions." Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science cowrote the study.
For the study, immune cells that target and harm the brain and spinal cord were taken from paralyzed mice and treated with cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
In either case, the immune cells produced fewer inflammatory molecules -- especially the molecules associated with MS.
According to the researchers, it was the presence of CBD or THC that restrained the immune cells from triggering the production of inflammatory molecules and limited the molecules' ability to reach and damage the brain and spinal cord.
With a net worth of $37 billion, the 80-year-old Adelson is chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which runs the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Adelson has donated $5 million to the conservative super-PAC Congressional Leadership Fund as well as to the Republican National Committee.
Yet, even with these findings, Adelson has decided to donate big money to Drug Free Florida, the chief anti-medical marijuana group that has teamed up with the Florida Sheriffs Association in an attempt to try to get voters to punch "no" on 2 in November and kill the medical marijuana initiative.
June Cutright, a progressive-MS patient who lives in Florida, called Sheldon's decision to back anti-medical marijuana, despite his own research group's findings, "unconscionable."
"If Sheldon Adelson knows that studies he is funding are saying marijuana may help treat my disease, how can he contribute millions of dollars to a group fighting every day to keep me from having access to it?" Cutright said via United for Care.
United for Care's campaign manager, Ben Pollara, added, "Maybe Sheldon Adelson's just so rich that he's not aware of what his money is funding around the globe. Or maybe he simply doesn't care about the consequences for patients with multiple sclerosis. Either way, it's shocking."
Adelson, who has also funded drug-addiction clinics in Nevada and Israel, believes pot to be a gateway drug.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.