Rick Steves, the affable host of the long-running PBS travel series Rick Steves’ Europe, has made himself an essential visual guide to anyone who wants to visit Europe and do it right. Furthermore, Steves has written various books that have become must-reads in the travel literary canon.
What you might not know is that Steves is a fierce advocate for cannabis. He has stated his belief that marijuana is a “soft drug” like alcohol and tobacco and should be regulated and taxed as such. He also serves on the advisory board of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Through his travels, he’s come to believe that Europe holds a far better approach to regulating marijuana, where personal responsibility is valued over prohibition. As he told Rolling Stone, he “credits his European travels for opening his eyes to a more creative and sensible approach to drug policy.” One person he believes would benefit from a Euro trip to witness firsthand the continent’s “sensible approach” is none other than Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In fact, Steves laid out a whole travel plan for Sessions to truly expand his extremely limited and limiting views on marijuana.
“I would take him to Switzerland and we’d go to a heroin maintenance clinic,” Steves says of the Swiss clinics where even hard drugs like heroin are not treated with a carceral approach.
Next, Steves says they’d hit a Barcelonan cannabis club. “In Spain they can’t sell marijuana but they can grow it. In practice, they don’t want to grow it so they join a club that grows it collectively, and they can enjoy the harvest.”
Then, Steves says it would be off to the Netherlands where he and the attorney general would visit a Dutch “coffee shop,” where adults can buy a variety of cannabis items in limited quantities from a reputable seller.
“After the coffee shop, we’d visit a mayor and a policeman and have [Sessions] listen to the mayor and policeman explain why they’d rather have coffee shops than have marijuana sold on the street,” Steves says.
Steves has taken personal responsibility for convincing members of Congress the benefits and logic to ending marijuana prohibition. Part of his persuasion lies in his symbol as a genial, kind of goofy travel host that completely upends the obsolete “Reefer Madness” narrative that Sessions continues to spill.
As more foundational members in Republican circles, like the Koch Brothers, feel more comfortable voicing critical opposition to Sessions’ retrograde policies, it seems more and more likely Steves may soon recreate his Euro weed adventure after all. The attorney general just might be left out of the party.