R-J editorial page does predicted about-face

You can’t say you didn’t see that coming.

For years the editorial stance of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has been notably libertarian leaning — strongly supportive of fiscal conservativism but taking a live-and-let-live stances on social issues, including the futile war on drugs that has criminalized victimless recreational drug use.

On Dec. 20, shortly after the staff of the newspaper learned its new owner was the family of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an editorial appeared offering predictions on how things might change in future editorials. “The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial page can become his family’s personal soap box, if that’s what they want,” the editorial stated.

This is what it forecast on the drug war:

Drug policy: The Review-Journal was one of the first editorial boards in the country to condemn the failed federal war on drugs and advocate decriminalization of narcotics, starting with marijuana. The newspaper endorsed the state constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana and backs the approval of a 2016 Nevada ballot question to allow legal recreational marijuana. Mr. Adelson, who lost a son to a drug overdose, opposes the legalization of marijuana for any use. Last year, he and his wife, Miriam, a physician and expert in drug addiction, provided the vast majority of funding for the campaign to defeat a ballot question that would have legalized medical marijuana in Florida. Their campaign prevailed.

Potential change in position: Complete reversal.

Today the lede editorial in the paper is a point-for-point refutation of Question 2 on this fall’s Nevada election ballot that would decriminalize for people 21 and older possession of an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and impose a 15 percent tax on its sale with revenues earmarked for education.

Adelson and wife

The editorial says marijuana is more hazardous than proponents claim. “Marijuana contains nearly 500 dangerous chemicals when inhaled or ingested, including about five times more tars and other cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke. Cancer, respiratory diseases, mental illness, birth defects, reproductive problems and irreversible brain damage are all linked to marijuana use,” it says.

It calls pot a gateway drug, says it has not raised as much revenue as predicted in other states, has increased emergency room visits by tourists and claims only 0.7 percent of Nevada inmates are jailed for only simple pot possession — ignoring the fact prosecutors tend to pile on charges

Just a couple of weeks before that Dec. 20 forecast editorial, the paper editorialized in favor of decriminalization of weed by removing marijuana from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

That editorial concluded:

Beyond getting the Department of Justice out of the growing legal marijuana industry, reclassifying marijuana will keep more nonviolent offenders out of jail and prison, as well as generate more tax revenue for states and local governments.

It’s an important — and long overdue — start to changing the costly trajectory of the failed war on drugs.

In May 2014, an R-J editorial called on readers to sign a petition to put pot legalization on the ballot.

A November 2014 editorial concluded, “Legalizing marijuana would allow Nevada to help lead the country away from one of its most expensive mistakes.”

Marijuana.com reported in January, “According to journalists present at a Monday meeting with publisher Jason Taylor and interim editor Glenn Cook, Adelson and his wife Miriam are asking editorial board members to visit a drug treatment center and reconsider the publication’s support for ending prohibition ahead of a November vote on legalizing marijuana in Nevada.” This was buoyed by copies of Tweets sent by several reporters present at the meeting.

He might have started by “asking,” but orders work better.



43 comments on “R-J editorial page does predicted about-face

  1. Hey Mr Mitchell, where can I see your Voter Guide for the June 14, 2016 primary ? I responded to your candidate questionnaire weeks ago..

  2. It ran in the Mesquite Local News, I think. I don’t have a copy.

  3. Eddie “AlwaysRunningButNeverSeriously” Hamilton…

  4. (Pat Paulsen would be proud)

  5. Looks like Jacob Sullum and Forbes trailed you by a day on the marijuana turnaround: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2016/06/09/sheldon-adelson-buys-editorial-support-for-pot-prohibition-in-nevada/ . And here people were saying “Well, maybe Sheldon will turn out to be more of a free-market kind of guy . . .” I doubt his son Mitchell, 48, died of a MARIJUANA overdose. If all drugs are “gateway” drugs, we anxiously await the Adelson-Journal’s call for a renewal of alcohol Prohibition. Surely they don’t serve THAT poison in his casinos, do they? Selling America’s most destructive drug just to make even more money?

  6. There is drinking going on at Adelson’s gambling joints? Why, I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.

  7. As a matter of fact, a strong case can be made that most unintended opiate overdose deaths are CAUSED by Prohibition. “Street drugs” are notoriously variable in purity, potency, and the presence of adulterants. If heroin were legal (again) it would presumably be sold by the kinds of folks who currently sell aspirin and beer, Legitimate vendors and retailers with reputations and investments (in brick-and-mortar stores, in “brand identification,” etc.) to protect would have considerable incentives to monitor purity and potency . . . and to label accurately. Saying folks today are currently “killed by drugs” if like saying someone lying abed in a second-floor bedroom of the Mount Carmel Church as her toddler played on the floor was “killed by a bullet.” Either the culprit was a BATF that mounts massive armed raids, featuring gunmen in military helicopters, on churches “suspected of possessing illegal firearms” (in fact, the Seventh Day Adventists at Waco turned out to have only legal firearms — locked in a safe, and fewer per capita than the rest of Texas) or the culprit was the “WAR on drugs” that forces consumers to risk their lives with an anonymized product. The “War on Drugs” which the statist Adelsons now require their newspaper to endorse.

  8. I know precisely whereof you speak.

  9. So are you two advocating the legalization of hard “street drugs” such as heroin, opium, crack cocaine etc. as a part of the libertarian agenda? Are you going to provide a government stipend to allow the addicts to buy the drugs, are you going to subsidize the access to new syringes, and are you also going to provide living accommodation subsidies, public transportation subsidies, food stamps, and utility payment subsidies also? If you’re not…then these addicts will have to continue to rob, pillage, plunder and prostitute themselves to continue their addictions. The only thing that will have changed is a ton of federal money spent to purify their drug of choice. Please tell me more…

  10. Why is government always the solution?

  11. Government is never the right solution IMHO…but neither is legalization of hard street drugs.

  12. Steve says:

    The argument is so called “hard street drugs” were created as a direct result of US style interdiction.
    It’s the same thing that happened as a result of prohibition, a nation of wine and beer drinkers became hooked on whisky and rum because the stronger stuff was easier to smuggle and got people high faster with lots less product.

    Without the so called “drug war” we wouldn’t even have meth.

    We turned a nation of marijuana and cocoa users into a nation of meth heads.

  13. You’re dreaming Steve…as someone who has personally witnessed the carnage of heroin and other “hard” drug addictions including meth and crack cocaine…I can tell you the misery and the devastation is real, and the drugs are very dangerous. Again, I’m waiting for an answer to my questions above about how this will all work…when libertarians legalize these drugs, but the progressive socialist leftists who control the government…will want to subsidize the degenerate life styles of these addicts.

  14. And let’s not forget the other classes of drugs…the psychedelics or hallucinogens: LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, (synthesized) or their natural forms peyote buttons, magic mushrooms, etc. And the most abused of all drugs…prescription pain medications. Should they be legalized too? And of course it bears mentioning…that today’s marijuana is twenty times more potent than the pot I smoked in my misspent youth, and there is no scientifically verifiable method of determining the level of intoxication of someone driving under the influence of this super strong herb.

  15. Let’s start with decriminalizing pot and see where it goes from there. I doubt it will result in a scene from “Reefer Madness.”

  16. Prohibition is the bigger problem by far.

  17. I think we can agree on that…however, I have a problem with the government again determining the winners and losers in the recreational dispensary business. I would prefer allowing individuals to grow their own for personal imbibement…with severe penalties for driving while intoxicated, and attempted sales or distribution to others.

  18. What’s wrong with a free market? No sales to minors, I’m OK with that.

  19. Bad timing…I agree with decriminalization of pot as a place to start…I disagree that prohibition is a bigger problem by far.

  20. And Thomas…we both know there is no such thing as a free market today with the progressive politicians in control, the government will license, tax and make as much money as possible on this deal. I happened to be at city hall in Henderson when all the prospective dispensary owners were jockeying for position while the commissioners all sat with dollar signs in their eyes.

  21. Rincon says:

    Although some deaths from street drugs are due to variability in potency, the nature of addiction itself is probably a much greater factor. The accepted medical doses of legal narcotics generally have no effect on an addict because they develop a tolerance. They routinely and knowingly take massive overdoses. Even though a dose that would be fatal to normal people is tolerated by addicts, there are limits to what the body can endure. At the doses routinely taken by addicts, opiates inhibit respiration, often severely enough to cause death by respiratory failure.

  22. Steve says:

    The sched 1 drug under current consideration for legalization is marijuana.
    Libertarians will face the same systemic resistance to change Barack Obama faced.
    Total removal of interdiction won’t take place overnight. And that’s a good thing because we would drown in the reaction.

    And I am not dreaming at all, history shows my statement about so called “gateway” substances is very true.

  23. Oh…changing from hard street drugs to only legalizing marijuana, does that make you a milquetoast libertarian?

  24. Spot on Rincon…

  25. Steve says:

    Changing ?
    Only Libertarians are advocating change in this arena…and it won’t go anywhere near as far as you say.

    All the ill’s described have been shown to arise from our interdiction posture.

    We have created the problems we now have, they simply didn’t exist before.

  26. You’re the one who spouted off absurdly about hard street drugs…and now you want to only talk about marijuana…I merely made the observation.

  27. I believe the original post was on the newspaper’s new ownership — which absurdly vowed it wasn’t going to interfere in editorial matters — requiring its hired hands to make an about-face on this issue so extreme and obvious as to be laughable. As those owners will eventually bear the financial repercussions from the paper’s ongoing loss of credibility from such obvious and illogical “about turns” (I can’t wait till we get to “Online gaming”) the free market does at least impose justice of a sort. (Assuming the Adelsons would even notice the loss of a few more million in circulation revenues, here or there.)

    The real absurdity of the position those editorial writers have now been “encouraged” to embrace is that it assumes marijuana PROHIBITION (necessary, we’re now advised, because “marijuana smoke contains more impurities than tobacco” — wow, there’s the knockout punch) prevents people from smoking marijuana. In fact, the only choice here is between allowing those who choose to consume this non-addictive drug to again buy and sell it on a legal market where there could be some assurance of dosage and potency control (as before 1933), versus requiring them to get their drug of choice from a criminal element, where contract disputes are frequently resolved with guns instead of court filings.

    Has the choice of “Option B” over the past half-century made our inner cities nicer places to hang out?

    Meantime: If a legal market in drugs would essentially make America’s streets look like something out of the zombie apocalypse, why were no such drug laws found necessary from 1607 to about 1903 (three centuries during which America’s energy, growth, and productivity were the envy of the world), when the first attempt was made to ban opium, after congressional testimony made it clear this was in response to the perceived “Yellow Peril” — the fear that the drug allowed Asian males to seduce white women?

    Such a proud racist heritage these drug warriors have. A million Americans in prison, a group disproportionately comprised of blacks and Hispanics (and even plenty of women), and still they’re not satisfied.

    Meantime, for the record, the Constitution delegates to the government no authority to wage any “War on Drugs” — “hard,” “soft,” or otherwise. I don’t think the “Interstate Commerce clause” was intended to stop George Washington from selling the hemp he grew at Mount Vernon to residents of Maryland, Delaware, or Pennsylvania. Do you? 🙂

  28. Steve says:

    Thanks, Vin.

    Brien, it was you who introduced the “hard street drug” argument. I stated we wouldn’t even have any such thing without the so called “war on drugs”.

  29. So I go back to my original questions…do you support the legalization of all drugs (enumerated above)? Even with alcohol and tobacco…there are rules, regulation, and taxation…are you advocating for the same government control of these vices? And I’m still concerned with the violent crime rate connected with the hard core drug addicts (heroin, crack, meth, etc). I’m also troubled about child neglect, abuse and negative psychological consequences of being raised in such an environment where these substances are more readily available. Clearly, life and civilizational norms were much different from 1607 to 1903 than they are today with no welfare state to cushion this sort of behavior. Finally, even if these substances are legalized…there will still be an operational underground black market…there always is.

  30. Steve says:

    Red herring argument.

  31. If you proud libertarians don’t want to answer simple questions about how all this would work…that’s fine, but please don’t try label it as a fallacy…it’s actually you folks who seem to be avoiding the issues.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I did answer you.

    Your scenario won’t happen because, like Barack Obama discovered, the founders set up a system of government that resists change to the degree you describe.

    Libertarians are the only party including legalization in their platform. This does not mean they will, if elected to a portion of power in our government, have any more effect than any other party has been able to effect.

    If they do manage to get in, then it simply pushes the struggle away from the left in some instances and towards the left in others.

    Your scare tactic is just that, fantasy scare.

    Hence red herring.

    Voting for Trump is voting for Clinton. Voting for a viable third party takes votes away from her.

  33. Although this may grow tedious for many — and it’s Mitch’s blog, and I believe Mitch has already taken the moderate and sensible stance that “Let’s start with decriminalizing pot and see where it goes from there” — I can only respond by going back to MY original question:

    So you support a “War on Drugs” which is not authorized anywhere in the Constitution (that is to say, it’s fine by you that everyone involved is violating his or her oath to protect and defend a Constitution which grants the government only limited powers, specifically delineated — and that having gotten away with that (and enjoying a share of the forfeited property of their victims) they now feel free to go ahead and violate our other Constitutional protections as they see fit?

    You support a “War on Drugs” which has cost billions of dollars and jailed ONE MILLION of our fellow Americans without stopping any of the “misery and devastation of addictions” you cite (those outcomes did occur DURING Prohibition, right? How on earth did that happen, if Prohibition “works”?) In fact, Prohibition makes such outcomes far worse and more likely, since illicit traffickers have a strong risk-versus-gain incentive to deal in more concentrated extracts, which is precisely why drugs have grown more potent under Drug Prohibition (as you concede) — just as alcohol grew more potent from 1919-1933, but Americans then started to switch back to gentler wine and beer, with their easier “dose control,” after re-legalization.

    You endorse and celebrate and wish to continue a “War on Drugs” which is rapidly turning America into an armed police state, full of late-night SWAT-team door-busting and “plea deals” encouraging neighbor to “roll over” and snitch on neighbor, brother on brother? Way to build strong, peaceful, and mutually trusting communities, hey?

    There should be no need to “re-legalize” any drugs, medicines, entheogens or plant extracts. All we need are honest judges and jurors who will demand that the prosecutor “show me in the Constitution where the state is specifically authorized to restrict, regulate, or ban this commerce in plants and plant extracts. Because if you can’t show me, we’re out of here.”

    In a free country — as in America for most of our history — people are free to grow and consume, buy and sell, any plant or plant extract they wish. No one else can or should be obliged to subsidize their negative outcomes, though of course voluntary charity — even foster care of the occasional abandoned child — is allowed.

    Once the fruitless and counterproductive “War on Drugs” ends — and it will end, as surely as the witch-burnings petered out after a pretty scary 200 years — these substances will cost about as much as beer (less the current government taxes) and sugar (minus the protective tariffs designed to protect C&H by keeping out the cheap stuff from Santo Domingo.) Do you see many folks “continuing to rob, pillage, plunder and prostitute themselves” to be able to afford beer and sugar? That’s just silly. Or else it’s memorized propaganda, delivered in an accusatory shriek designed to shut down reasoned discussion.

  34. Steve says:

    Anon is me. I have been fighting with Chrome. Did some settings and updated to their “beta” 64 bit version.

    Google is breaking Chrome, I like using it because it syncs nicely with the android phone.
    Sadly, I think I will not be able to keep using Chrome much longer if google doesn’t fix it.

    Chrome is a disaster on the RJ site among others.

  35. And I’m also waiting to see the Review-Journal’s new evidence showing that marijuana causes “birth defects . . . and irreversible brain damage.”

  36. Steve says:

    Off topic.
    Update on the browser wars and the RJ’s effect on them. if anyone wants to know.

    The RJ site is a problem. Aside from Google ending support for NPAPI the RJ has been doing things to their site that effect web browsers in different ways.
    I have tried MS Edge, IE11 and the beta 64 bit Chrome. I haven’t tried Firefox or Opera and I don’t use Apple so Safari is not an option.
    The three browsers I used reacted differently on the RJ site and in different places on it. All three eventually locking up and crashing with IE11 reporting a “long script” before it crashed.

    I suggest using the mobile site for reading the RJ online. It works and isn’t larded up with all kinds of ads.

    As for Google ending support for NPAPI, open a page with a shockwave video, right click the video and uncheck “use hardware acceleration” to resolve issues with videos slowing Chrome down. And Chrome remains the fastest browser I have checked.

  37. Wrong again Steve…it was Mr. Suprynowicz who introduced the subject of hard street drugs in his first response (opiate overdose deaths). And again…you ARE dreaming if you think that hard street drugs would not exist without, and are the result of the so called “war on drugs.” Also…Mr. Suprynowicz attributes many “endorsements” and positions to me that are fallacious and inaccurate. (I don’t support the war on drugs, in fact I don’t think it exists as such!). My position is primarily this…that you all have NOT really thought this whole thing through…your reservations to admit that YES you do support legalization of all drugs including heroin, crack cocaine, meth, crystal meth, hallucinogens, prescription pain medication without a prescription etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, seems to suggest this. In fact…I’m willing to bet that I may be the only one posting here who has actually imbibed and had real world experience with the subcultures and destructive nature surrounding the substances you speculate about. In a more perfect world…the laissez faire utopia you all opine for might be attainable…but in our present dire situation where the progressives who are in control at all levels of government rob from the producers to redistribute to the non-producers or barnacles of our society…we may be opening a larger can of worms than is anticipated. That’s all I’m saying…

  38. Rincon says:

    “In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to abolish all criminal penalties for personal drug possession. In addition, drug users were to be provided with therapy rather than prison sentences. Research commissioned by the Cato Institute and led by Glenn Greenwald found that in the five years after the start of decriminalisation, illegal drug use by teenagers had declined, the rate of HIV infections among drug users had dropped, deaths related to heroin and similar drugs had been cut by more than half, and the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction had doubled.[38] However, Peter Reuter, a professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, suggests that the heroin usage rates and related deaths may have been due to the cyclical nature of drug epidemics, but conceded that “decriminalization in Portugal has met its central goal. Drug use did not rise.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_liberalization

  39. Anonymous says:

    Brien, you assume much about others (in particular me) with your post and as usual, assumptions couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    Furthermore there most certainly is real evidence that interdiction only increases drug abuse while treatment (and eventual legalization) lowers drug abuse and the associated crime it creates.


  40. Steve says:

    Using several different browsers.

    Anon @ June 14, 2016 at 10:42 am is me

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