Rick Steves, who is most famous for his PBS travel show Rick Steves’ Europe, has been a staunch supporter of cannabis legalization for some time now. His widespread advocacy was on full display on Tuesday, when the television travel guide held a press conference with Illinois lawmakers about a bill that could potentially legalize cannabis in the state.
The Dream Team
Steves made an appearance in Chicago on Tuesday with Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy—the sponsors of the proposed legalization bill.
Steve’s message on cannabis was simple: People are going to do it whether it’s legal or not. He panned the prohibition of the plant and said it should be taxed and regulated, rather than sold on the black market.
“This is not a pro-pot movement. This is an anti-prohibition movement,” Steves said at the conference.
Despite his clamoring for the legalization of cannabis, Steves admitted that there are still some downfalls when it comes to pot.
“It’s not good for you. It can be abused,” Steves said. However, he also went on to say most cannabis laws are unjustly applied to the poor, as well as people of color.
Steves, Steans and Cassidy are also set to appear before a state Senate committee hearing about the potential revenue that can be generated from taxing the drug. Steans and Cassidy noted that Illinois could be poised to garner hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue if cannabis is legalized and regulated.
Rick Steves Advocates For Legal Weed
Steves has had somewhat of an illustrious history supporting the legalization of cannabis. You can trace his progressive roots all the way back to the 1980s when he appeared anonymously on a radio show as a “responsible businessman who supports drug law reform.”
Additionally, Steves was a staunch supporter of the legalization of recreational cannabis in his hometown of Washington back in 2012. He’s also a board member of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), a cannabis advocacy group.
In addition to the potential profit to be made from cannabis sales, Steves maintains the stance that the prohibition of marijuana causes more problems than it actually solves and also that it promotes drug wars amongst black market dealers.
“Marijuana is a huge underground business in our state—some experts estimate that it’s our second biggest crop, after apples. Untold billions of untaxed dollars are enriching gangs and empowering organized crime. And tens of thousands have died in Mexico because of the illegal drug trade in the USA. Facing this challenge, we believe the safest approach is to bring cannabis out of the black market and regulate it,” Steves said on his website.
Steves has also pointed to the success of European countries, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, where cannabis was made legal, yet usage remains lower than in the U.S.
“European societies have learned that the only thing “gateway” about marijuana is its illegality.”