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Rick Steves: U.S. Should Learn From Europe's Marijuana Laws

March 7, 2018

Author and travel expert Rick Steves has long studied drug and marijuana policies around the world, and he told Cheddar that the United States should take a page from Europe’s rulebook.

“In our society, especially with the way our administration is approaching the drug problem, it’s just ‘moralize and lock them up’, and it’s just not productive,” he said Tuesday. “In Europe, the word for addicted is ‘enslaved.’ People aren’t criminals, they’re sick … they need help to get over this problem.”

This White House has taken a harsher stance on drugs than its predecessor, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapping Obama-era rules stopping the federal government from interfering with states’ cannabis laws, and President Donald Trump even suggesting the death penalty for dealers.

Steves, who co-sponsored a bill legalizing weed in Washington state, champions a more empathetic approach. He’s studied European drug laws for 15 years and says that, on the continent where “a joint is about as exciting as a can of beer,” effective policies keep incarceration rates low.

“Learn about Europe’s challenges with marijuana and its opioid problem, bring it home, and our society can learn.”

While Steves says he isn’t necessarily “pro-marijuana”, he is a strong advocate of ending “stupid” bans on its use.

“I’m just interested in [ending] incarceration and racist drug laws,” he said.

Currently, adult recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.

For the full interview, click here.