We’d like to introduce you to two anti-pot fanatics.
Sheldon Adelson is a casino billionaire. He founded and runs the Sands Corporation, which owns the Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip and other casinos in Macau. (Macau is a former Portuguese colony that is now part of China.)
Adelson really hates weed. He’s been channeling millions to defeat even medical marijuana initiatives, including funding virtually singlehandedly the entire campaign against the medical-marijuana initiative in Florida, which garnered some 58 percent of the vote and still lost because of a weird Florida rule requiring a 60 percent vote. This cycle, he has given a million dollars to the campaign against pot legalization in Maine. Maine’s a small state; that packs a punch. He’s also tossed that much to the anti forces in the fight for this year’s medical marijuana initiative in Florida, and just this week gave a half million dollars to the anti-legalization campaign in Arizona.
It’s pretty ironic how a guy who’s made millions profiting off vice—gambling, for starters, and then all the other inducements, alcohol among them, that surround the industry—making moral judgments on the utterly harmless choices marijuana smokers make. (And even more ironic how this moralist has no problem doing business with the totalitarian state of China.)
Anyway, few of us probably spend much money in Sheldon Adelson casinos.
Which brings us to Bruce Halle. He’s the founder of Discount Tire. As a consequence, he is often said to be the richest guy in Arizona, where the company is headquartered.
Halle just donated a cool $1 million to the opposition of the legalization measure on the ballot there in November. (Arizona voters passed medical marijuana in 2010.)
Arizona is kind of a backward state. By most social metrics, it’s an honorary member of the Deep South. Its marijuana laws are pre-historic; possession of anything less than 2 pounds of grass is a flat-out felony.
And here, as in other states, disproportionate enforcement is the rule on blacks and other minorities, even though studies have shown the various races use marijuana at similar rates.
Discount Tire has nearly 1000 outlets across the country. (In California, incidentally, you might know it as America’s Tire. It’s the same company.)
Halle is content to take money from his customers, but he also wants to put them in jail for doing something that he doesn’t like but that doesn’t harm anyone else.
The poor saps who are arrested cost taxpayers money—and aren’t paying taxes themselves. Their job prospects are correspondingly attenuated, meaning they will pay less taxes throughout their life. And their families will suffer, too, as (if they end up being incarcerated) the kids lack a parent and the family’s ability to do something productive like save for college or a house is circumscribed as well. All of that comes with its own long-term social costs.
So, aside from all that, Halle’s $1 million donation against Arizona’s marijuana reform initiative will be just great for the state.
It’s a free country, and Bruce Halle can do what he wants with his money.
We can too. A lot of folks use Discount Tire. If you’re one of ’em, call ’em up and tell them you want to be removed from their system. (The poor sap who answers the phone will tell you he can’t do that, but the message will get through.)
And, even more easily, just don’t get your tires there. Put your money where your self-interest is, and where the good of the country is, and don’t patronize Discount Tire. (Or America’s Tire.)
And tell your friends, too.