RENO, Nev. - A newspaper in rural northern Nevada has given a surprising endorsement to a ballot measure to decriminalize adult possession of limited amounts of marijuana through regulation and taxation.
"In a state where prostitution is legal in certain counties, bars are not required to close and children can legally possess and use tobacco, objections to marijuana legalization on a moral basis seem hypocritical," the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard said in a Tuesday editorial.
"Those who view marijuana as a blight on society have yet to offer an effective solution of how to stop its spread through society or better fund law enforcement. Continuation of the ill-funded, halfhearted campaigns of the past is little more than veiled acceptance of its current widespread and illegal use."
State Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said he was surprised by newspaper's support for the Nov. 7 ballot question.
"It surprised me that a rural newspaper would do that," he said, noting northern Nevada's typical conservative political leanings.
But Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said rural Nevada often shows its independent backbone.
"I wouldn't have predicted it, but it's not one where I'm shocked," he said.
"Rural Nevada, while often thought to be conservative, is often more libertarian. They don't like government intervention," Herzik said.
"They're not endorsing the use of marijuana, but instead saying 'Why don't we treat this as we do many other vices in Nevada' — which is to accept them," Herzik said.
Nevada voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing marijuana use for medical purposes in 1998 and 2000. Two years later, they rejected efforts by national advocates to allow adult possession of up to 3 ounces for non-medical use.
The latest proposal would allow adults to possession up to 1 ounce.