Behind Steves' middle-America explorer facade lies not only a political progressive, but smart business sense that may make his Euro-centric guide business the last man standing when the guidebook shakeout concludes.
Travel guru Rick Steves spoke to full house at the Vancouver Community Library Friday night in favor of I-502, an initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.
The crowd was calmer than the one he met earlier in the day at the state’s capitol building. According to the Capital Record, those opposing the initiative tried to drown out Steves and other speakers.
With more than 100 people in attendance at the library, Steves, who has donated $350,000 to the campaign, outlined why he’s a proponent of the initiative.
Steves said marijuana use is highly stigmatized in the U.S., making Americans afraid of being labeled a stoner for even talking about marijuana.
“It’s an odd thing that we haven’t been able to talk about this for so long,” Steves said.
Through his travels abroad, Steves found that alternative lifestyles are tolerated in Europe, and people aren’t criminalized for their casual use of the drug. Europeans don’t smoke any more marijuana than Americans, he said, even though its legal in Europe.
Under I-502, up to one ounce of cannabis would be legal, or 16 ounces of food infused with marijuana (such as brownies) or 72 ounces of drinks infused with marijuana. People could smoke it in the privacy of their own home, and medical marijuana laws would not change.
It would be regulated much like alcohol is. Selling marijuana on the street would still be illegal, and selling pot to minors under age 21 would be illegal. Rather, marijuana would be sold through private businesses and regulated by the government for quality control.
“When it’s illegal, people have to buy it on the street from a criminal,” Steves said.
With the current illegal marijuana market, he said people may be buying a contaminated product. Initiative 502 would ensure that people know what they’re buying and where it’s coming from.
The law would also restrict advertising to protect youth from being targeted and includes a DUI standard that would make it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of THC in your blood.
Whatever substance — whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs or marijuana — impaired drivers shouldn’t be on the roads, Steves said.
“I-502 has the great potential to work in parallel with law enforcement,” Steves said.
He noted that the law would generate revenue to the state that could then be put back into drug education. The Office of Financial Management estimated that making the initiative a law and including a 25 percent sales tax on marijuana, would bring in $1.9 billion in revenue to the state over the next five years.
“Prohibition is an expensive, losing battle,” Steves said. “If I want to go home and smoke a little pot and look at my fireplace for six hours, that’s my civil liberty.”
Voters will see the initiative on their Nov. 6 ballot. Oregon and Colorado will have similar initiatives on their ballots.
(c)2012 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Are Google Reviews Poised to Beat TripAdvisor at Its Own Game?
Google has fought and annoyed TripAdvisor and Yelp for years when it comes to user reviews. The search giant obviously has the scale to compete and is now putting new emphasis on its own user reviews, but it has to prove it has the focus to upend the review balance of power.
Martin Soler and Daniel E. Craig, Skift | 5 years ago
Historic City Gets Court OK to License Tour Guides Although Lawsuit Looms
While Washington, D.C. and Savannah, Georgia withdrew moves to require the licensing of tour guides, Charleston is intent on doing so although the outcome of a lawsuit will have something to say about that.
Bruce Smith, Associated Press | 5 years ago
Google’s New Travel App Is a Mashup of Guidebook and TripIt
As with anything Google does, you can expect Google Trips to be very much a work in progress that goes through numerous iterations before it becomes available to the public. But its beta release expands Google's footprint in the travel ecosystem especially since so many consumers begin their trip planning in the search engine and explore destinations with the Maps app.
Dennis Schaal, Skift | 5 years ago