But in December, news broke that conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family purchased the paper. Shortly thereafter, Adelson, a staunch opponent of cannabis who spent more than $5 million to defeat a medical marijuana initiative in Florida in 2014, reportedly urged the paper’s editorial page writers to go on a field trip to a drug treatment center in hopes of getting them to reconsider their pro-marijuana stance.
As Tom Angell of marijuana.com points out, Adelson’s efforts apparently paid dividends. On Tuesday, Nevada’s largest paper struck a completely different tone about marijuana with an editorial entitled, “Pot legalization a bad bet for Nevada.”
The piece fear-mongers about marijuana by connecting legalization with increased rates of cancer and birth defects, among other negative outcomes.
“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,” it says. “And no matter how much pot enthusiasts argue otherwise, marijuana is both addictive — one in 10 people who try pot will become hooked on it — and a gateway to more deadly drugs that kill more than 45,000 Americans a year.”
The experience of Colorado suggests legalization won’t have such dire results. Federal data shows that legalization didn’t significantly increase the number of adults or teens consuming cannabis in the state. And while it’s too early to draw conclusions about the impact legalization has had on crime, the state’s $1 billion marijuana industry generated more than $135 million in tax revenue, with $35 million of that earmarked for school construction projects.
ThinkProgress reached out to two members of the Review-Journal’s editorial page for comment about the paper’s new tone. They directed our questions to publisher Craig Moon, who didn’t respond. But in an email to Angell of marijuana.com, Moon wrote that “the editorial was written at my request, the [Adelson] family was not involved.”
It appears Adelson and the Review-Journal’s newly pot-unfriendly editorial board face an uphill battle in defeating the state’s marijuana legalization initiative. Though little polling has been done recently, a 2013 Public Polling Polling survey found support for cannabis legalization among Silver State residents at 54 percent — a number that has likely only grown since then as more states have reformed marijuana laws.
It’s unclear to what extent Adelson will be financially involved in the effort to defeat Nevada’s legalization initiative, but anti-legalization activist Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana recently told Weed Week that he’s “had some discussions with people close to [Adelson]” about providing his support.
Author: Aaron Rupar