Famed travel writer Rick Steves is urging voters to support marijuana legalization initiatives where they appear on the ballot and announced that he would virtually campaign for the measures in four states. In a video message released on Friday, Steves noted that he has supported cannabis reform measures since before his home state of Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana nearly a decade ago.
“I’ve campaigned for marijuana legalization in six different states — Washington (2012), Oregon (2014), Massachusetts and Maine (2016), and Illinois and Michigan (2018) — and in each one, we’ve been successful,” he wrote in a message accompanying the video. “And for 2020, as I’m doing that work from home, I’ll be ‘barn-storming’ virtually in four states: New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana. We’re polling well in all four states and fully expect to win — as long as people who believe it’s time to update the racist and counterproductive current laws get out to vote.”
The four states Steves will be campaigning in all have initiatives on the November ballot that would legalize the use of cannabis for adults. South Dakota will also be voting on a measure to legalize medical marijuana, as will voters in Mississippi. Steves noted that he would be working with two national organizations working for cannabis reform in his current 10-day voter awareness campaign.
“Partnering with MPP (the Marijuana Policy Project, in South Dakota and Montana) and NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws — of which I’m a longtime board member — in Arizona and New Jersey), I’ve committed myself to ten solid days of media work (from September 21 through September 30) in these four states,” he said.
A Pragmatic Approach To Drug Policy
Steves, a NORML board member, has long shared the success of efforts to reform laws regulating recreational drugs in European countries, particularly the Netherlands. He noted that similar moves in the United States would address the racist origins of cannabis prohibition while reducing mass incarceration and transforming the current marijuana market from control by criminal organizations to an industry that contributes to society.
“I see this work as a civic duty…an act of good citizenship,” he continued. “If you care about fighting racism, defending civil liberties, and replacing a thriving black market with a highly regulated and taxed legal one, I hope you can work to elect politicians who favor an end to the prohibition on marijuana with this year’s election.”
Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, applauded Steves for his commitment to cannabis reform.
“We are thrilled to have Rick Steves taking time out of his busy schedule to emphasize that marijuana laws are a tragic, costly, and counterproductive prohibition for our country,” Altieri said. “Rick knows, as do the majority of voters in this country, that it is time to end this failed policy and legalize marijuana.”
In his message, Steves noted the success of reform in his home state and urged voters to support the legalization initiative where they live.
“We’re glad we legalized [marijuana in Washington state in 2012] and so are citizens in lots of other states,” he said. “And with this election, in your state you can legalize too. Be sure to vote, and vote ‘yes’ on marijuana.”
Steves plans to begin the campaign with a kick-off event to be live-streamed on Monday, September 21 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. More information about his efforts supporting drug policy reform is available online.