Celebrity travel host Rick Steves said the US government is "behind the curve" when it comes to sensible drug policies. Now he wants to guide the feds toward cannabis legalization.
Steves is best known as a travel guide, having helped people plot their European journeys through his TV series and numerous guidebooks for some 20 years. But Steves has also helped guide a number of lawmakers on a very different journey: the path to cannabis legalization. Now, after being involved with a number of successful state-level legalization efforts, Steves thinks "it's time for the federal government to recognize that we need to stop the prohibition against marijuana."
On his numerous trips across Europe, Steves has encountered many different perspectives on cannabis and none of them are as harsh as the American stance. When the people over there talk about the massive amounts of drug-related arrests in the US, they see big problems.
"They always told me, 'You Americans lock up about eight times as many people per capita as we do here in Europe. Either you're a more inherently criminal people or there's something scary about your laws,'" Steves told Roll Call.
Steves agreed. Without serious drug reforms, he thinks the US will continue to be an unjust society.
"This is a race issue. This is a civil liberties issue. This is a respect for law enforcement issue. This is a way to get serious and effective about hard drug issues: Take marijuana out of the equation and address serious drug abuse in more credible fashion."
The easiest way to fix these problems? Legalize cannabis nationally.
"Marijuana is a drug, it needs to be taken seriously and highly regulated," Steves told The Hill. "It can be abused, it needs to be kept out of the reach of children. And the smartest way to do that is to take it out of the black market and regulate it."
And to the people who say Steve's cannabis advocacy is the perfect reason to boycott him, he says he doesn't need them anyway.
"Every once in a while somebody would say, 'Rick Steves, we know what you think about marijuana. We're not going to take your guidebooks and we're not going to take your tours.' And all I can think is well, Europe's going to be more fun without you."