Travel guru and longtime marijuana legalization advocate is taking a break from his European excursions to lend his support to Measure 91, the campaign for legal recreational pot in Oregon.
Beginning Tuesday, October 7, Steves will embark on a six-day, 10-city tour of the Beaver State to advocate for the ballot measure, which would allow individuals 21 years of age and older to purchase small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Voters will consider the measure in November's general election. According to a release from New Approach Oregon, Steves' talk will focus on how his travel experience has shaped his views on cannabis.
"One thing I've learned in 30 years of travel is that treating marijuana as a crime does not work," Steves said in the release. "A better approach is to regulate it, legalize it and tax it. I'm an advocate for better policy, and that's what Oregon will get once Measure 91 passes."
Steves, who sits on the board of NORML, has long been a vocal advocate for marijuana reform. The PBS host and bestselling travel guide author was a co-sponsor of Initiative 502, the successful 2012 campaign to legalize recreational pot in Washington state. (Steves hails from Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle.) He's also tied his travels to his advocacy, writing about the Netherlands' drug policy and penning a book titled Travel as a Political Act.
"Rather than acting as a deterrent, the US criminalization of marijuana drains precious resources, clogs our legal system, and distracts law enforcement attention from more pressing safety concerns," Steves writes in the book. "Of the many billions of tax dollars we invest annually fighting our war on drugs, more than two-thirds is spent on police, courts, and prisons. Meanwhile, European nations — seeking a cure that isn't more costly than the problem itself — spend a much larger portion of its drug policy funds on doctors, counselors, and clinics."
In an interview with The Cannabist earlier this year, Steves pointed to the civil rights implications of legalization.
"I'm just tired of rich white people smoking pot with impunity and poor kids and black kids getting locked up because of it," Steves said. "It's racism. You can't take their vote away, but you can disenfranchise them by taking their lives away."