The Las Vegas Review-Journal has seemingly out of nowhere reversed its long-held pro-marijuana views, shortly following the paper’s purchase by billionaire Sheldon Adelson in December.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, the Review-Journal editorial board argued that the upcoming November vote to legalize marijuana in Nevada is a dangerous one, owing to the many societal consequences arising from the drug’s use.
The proposal would make recreational marijuana legal to purchase for users 21 and older, with the amount capped at one ounce. To help boost the state’s coffers, marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent. Funds raised would be earmarked for education.
The prospect of a fiscal bump was not enough to persuade the editorial board.
“Legalizing weed would jeopardize the health of countless Nevadans, expose more people to drug abuse and addiction, put excessive stress on the state’s health-care facilities and do little to relieve the state’s bloated prison population,” the editorial board noted.
Pot, the board continued, is an addictive gateway drug that also contains over 500 dangerous chemicals.
The position the paper held only a brief period ago was starkly different.
When the initiative was starting to gain steam in 2014 and gather enough signatures to make the ballot, the paper applauded it as “an important step forward in fixing a failed policy.”
“If you are presented with the petition, and you’re a registered voter, sign it,” the May 2014 editorial stated.
A subsequent piece in November 2014 predicted the initiative would pass and compared it to the inevitable march of gay marriage.
“State by state legalization of marijuana use is a step forward,” the article noted. “But it would be far better if Congress got out of its haze and removed marijuana from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. The war on drugs in general, and specifically marijuana, has been a colossal failure at tremendous cost.”
Incredibly, all the way up to November 2015, the paper’s opinion was very much pro-marijuana, arguing presidential candidates should push for marijuana to be removed from the list of prohibited Schedule I substances.
Adelson bought the paper in December 2015 and instructed members of the editorial board to re-examine their views on marijuana by taking a tour of a drug rehab center. Adelson is known for his opposition to marijuana, both recreational and medicinal.
Now, in June 2016, the paper’s stance has taken a complete and abrupt turn, which did not escape the attention of marijuana advocates.
“It’s pretty obvious that this is the position of an overzealous newspaper owner and not that of an objective editorial board,” Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project told Marijuana.com. “Most Nevadans are already wary of Adelson, and now they are probably even more so given how glaring the hypocrisy is in this case. This is a guy who has made a fortune pushing booze on casino-goers, but wants to keep a much less harmful product illegal. Hopefully the Review-Journal will keep Adelson’s opinion confined to the opinion section and not let it leak into its new coverage.”
But Craig Moon, editor-in-chief at the Review-Journal, told Marijuana.com, “the editorial was written at my request, the [Adelson] family was not involved.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation by press time.
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