Not him, again!

Nevada billionaire and Sands Las Vegas CEO Sheldon Adelson once proposed the U.S. nuke Iran, and donates to Republican Party candidates who share his uncritical and unwavering support for Israel. He has lobbied to expand the Interstate Wire Act to outlaw all online gambling instead of just sports betting. He is currently lobbying for a special session of the Nevada Legislature this summer to approve his scheme to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas by an increase in the hotel room tax. If the new Las Vegas football stadium is such a great idea, why doesn’t Mr. Adelson use some more of his own considerable fortune to build it?

Mr. Adelson does not want marijuana to be legalized, even medical marijuana. He spent millions to defeat medical marijuana legalization in Florida in 2014. His views contradict the views of his beloved Israel, which has long championed medical marijuana research. In fact, the Sheldon Adelson Medical Research Foundation funded a study by the Weizmann Institute of Science that found medical marijuana eased the swelling in the spinal cords and brains of lab mice and could help multiple sclerosis sufferers.

Mr. Adelson recently purchased the Las Vegas Review Journal for $140 million. The RJ has been a reliably classical liberal publication for many years, advocating less government and more individual freedom. Before Adelson bought the paper, its editorial policy supported drug war reform. On June 7, it published an editorial against Question 2, the “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol” initiative petition that is on this year’s November ballot. The $140 million editorial advanced simplistic arguments against legalization of marijuana that have been debunked or deserve a more complex treatment.

Smoking marijuana regularly can be harmful to long term respiratory health, but the cowed RJ editorialized that pot is more dangerous than tobacco because it contains 500 chemicals and more tars than cigarettes. The “500 chemicals” are simply natural non-medicinal and non-psychoactive vegetable matter, not industrial chemicals. The amount of tar in a joint is mitigated because marijuana users do not smoke as much as tobacco users, and the active ingredient THC is a bronchodilator. Chronic marijuana use is significantly less risky than chronic tobacco use.

The use of vaporizers and edible pot eliminates the risk of inhaled combusted impurities.

Edibles (marijuana brownies, cookies, candies, etc.) purchased by inexperienced users caused some disorientation and mild nausea, increasing emergency room visits after Colorado legalized pot. That state issued regulations, and the industry has changed its packaging to educate new users on the proper means of ingestion and possible side effects of edibles.

Despite alarmist predictions, there has been no notable increase in traffic accidents after marijuana was legalized in Colorado. Most studies indicate marijuana used alone has only a minimal effect on accident rates.

The Review Journal downplayed the criminal justice reform that marijuana legalization will bring. It advances a strawman contention that few are in prison in Nevada for simple possession. Marijuana legalization will eliminate arrests and imprisonment for licensed distribution and sales as well as simple possession, so there will be a great reduction in prison sentences for overall cannabis-related activity.

Question 2 has a strong chance of passage this year. It is sad to see the RJ editorial board capitulate to the reactionary views of its new owner. It remains to be seen if the paper’s journalists will also have to fall in line with Adelson’s prohibitionist stance or if insightful articles on the marijuana industry and prison reform will continue to be published as the RJ has done so well in the past.