Washington, DC: Today on Capitol Hill, bestselling guidebook author and public TV travel host Rick Steves addressed marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Inspired by Europe’s pragmatic approach to drug policy, with success measured by harm reduction rather than incarceration, Steves said that he is motivated to speak in favor of legalization because of its impact on civil liberties.
“There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you’re concerned about the well-being of children, fairness for minority communities, redirecting money away from criminals and into state’s coffers, stemming the horrific bloodshed in Mexico, or civil liberties; it is clearly time for a new approach,” Steves said.
The discussion on marijuana policy covered the current issues stemming from the current tension between federal prohibition and the ever-evolving patchwork of marijuana law reforms at the state level.
“It’s not 2010, we have years of data that is showing from my home state of Washington that regulation works,” said Steves.
On Jan. 4, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Justice Department has rescinded, effective immediately, Obama administration guidelines – known as the Cole – which directed US attorneys to not interfere with those compliant with state cannabis laws.
While the Attorney General’s actions were not totally unexpected, they do clash with pledges previously made by President Donald Trump, as well as with comments made by Sessions during his Senate confirmation process. At that time, Sessions that the guidelines laid out in the memorandum were “appropriate.”
More significantly, this move by the administration runs contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of US voters, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – who support the regulation of adult cannabis use and also that determining marijuana policy ought to be a state issue, not a federal one.
Today, one in five Americans resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute, and the majority of citizens reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized. It is time for Congressional representatives in these districts to step up and defend the rights of their constituents – many of whom rely on these policies for their health and welfare.
One of the nation’s leading voices to end the prohibition of marijuana, Rick Steves serves as a member of the board of NORML and has advocated extensively in support of the successful legalization efforts in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and his home state of Washington.
The events were organized by NORML in cooperation with the recently formed bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The Cannabis Caucus bills as “to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.”
“Rick Steves has worked for decades to shine a light on the impact of our outdated marijuana laws. He has been a tireless advocate to end cannabis prohibition,” said Rep. Blumenauer, co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Capitol Hill as we continue to educate Members and their staff about the importance of addressing this issue now.”