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Rick Steves Knows: Two Americas When It Comes to Marijuana


rick steves washington i 502Most of our laws work very differently for wealthy people and people battling poverty. Wall Street executives that endanger the world’s economy don’t see any jail time, but someone shoplifting to help feed their family just might. Same is true, if not more so, when it comes to our marijuana laws. Everybody loves Willie Nelson, the iconic musician, but if he were William Nelson, working-class construction worker, with the same number of run-ins with the law, he probably would be serving a prison sentence. When you add in people of color, you see even more disparate treatment. Personally, I became a cannabis law reform advocate because I witnessed first hand my middle class white friends treated better than my black friends when police were making marijuana arrests.

It is great to see someone relatively wealthy, like travel guru Rick Steves, recognize that we have a different set of marijuana laws for the rich and the poor in America. It is even better, that he is willing to travel the world, speaking the truth about this injustice. Steves was instrumental in both Washington and Oregon legalizing cannabis and he is taking his common-sense message for justice to California at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference on February 15th & 16th.

Smell the Truth’s David Downs recently published the second part of his extensive interview with the world traveler, author and TV & radio personality:

StT: How long will it take for politicians to catch up to where people are this issue?

Steves: Well, we have two different countries right now. I’ve traveled all over the country. Look at the East Coast. They just can’t hardly believe how far along we are and in their world it feels like they’re still behind. They’re on the dark side of the moon. I think that’s going to change very quickly and I think after 2016, once California legalizes, and a couple other states will go along with it — it’ll be easier because it’s a presidential year — I think it will be pretty hard to deny the fact that prohibition of marijuana is on its way out.

Right now there’s still the hope that it can be rolled back. I’m really thankful we passed in Oregon and Alaska, but we really need California on-board

Downs’ entire piece is certainly worth reading and I urge everyone to spread Rick Steves’ interviews far and wide. Steves has a folksy way about him that appeals to middle-of-the-road voters and he can even charm conservatives. The more that his pragmatic, sensible message is heard by the masses, the better. More and more voters are beginning to understand that our marijuana laws are unfair and a complete waste of resources, regardless of how they feel about marijuana or those that use marijuana. And eventually, the truth shall set us all free.


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. It’s tricky, but you can get a license so that you can grow it legally. In Colorado, I don’t think that you are allowed to grow if you have a felony, though. You might want to check it out. I live in a townhome with strict rules in a very conservative neighborhood. There’s some ex military people and snobs that live around me that have PTSD and can be very mean. It’s the Columbine HS neighborhood. There’s still people here who are suffering from PTSD because of that. Then we had a shooting at Arapahoe HS, and other high profile shootings so it’s put people on edge. They’re really paranoid around here about pot. It sucks but that is the way it is. Maybe this link will help you get the info you need to get started.


  2. No need to get belligerent. I’m just telling you that pot has an interesting history that has religious roots. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. That’s important to know because the bill of rights is one of the most important founding documents that we have. It gave us freedom from the oppression of the catholic church of England. The KKK and other extremists groups were founded in the catholic church. Hitler was a practicing Roman catholic. The klan was behind the prohibition movement from the start. Therefore, when you think about it, prohibition is a violation of religious freedom which is guaranteed in the US constitution. Wars have been fought and people have been killed by violent criminals over a plant. Prohibition has done far more harm than good. I’m on your side. Be nice! I lost a job because of pot and I haven’t smoked it for years. I had a crazy boss from hell who stalked me and harassed me every chance she got. It happens. I should have sued.

  3. And most (if not all) of these hate groups use religion as their justification for their actions.

  4. Honest religion is an oxymoron. More people have been killed, maimed, and tortured in the name of religion than all other causes since all recorded history.

    Keep your religion off of my cannabis.

  5. Here’s your Ah ha moment. Cannabis has been used by just about every culture and civilization long before recorded history of about 4000bc. Early Christians used it too. It’s mentioned in the bible and other religious texts, but they don’t want to admit it. According to gallop polls over 85% of Americans are in favor of legalization for medical use. Slightly over half are in favor of full legalization. It’s only a matter of time until the feds cave in. http://www.globalhemp.com/2001/01/hemp-history.html

  6. Any religion that is against cannabis isn’t a very honest religion. There are passages in the bible that explains it’s use in cooking, medicine, industrial uses, and for spiritual enlightenment. The first American bibles were made of hemp and so were the first American flags. It was considered so valuable by our forefathers that people were required to grow it and use it to pay taxes. Cannabis prohibition is un-American. Most religions and cultures at one point in history used it before reefer madness propaganda deceived the world. It doesn’t really matter what day the sabbath is recognized. The sabbath unfortunately is used as a day for some heretics to confess the sins that they committed all week anyway. Arguing about religion is just another way to avoid peace which is what most legit religions strive for. I’m pretty sure that there was more than just tobacco in the peace pipes that native Americans shared with our forefathers. Many of them claim that the Europeans brought it over, but I’m not convinced of that. It is very easy to grow anywhere. It’s very sad that hate groups have distorted what christianity and other peaceful religions are all about.

  7. I guess you didn’t understand the gist of my comment. Cannabis does not need any more regulation than food supplements. Hope that makes my stand clearer.
    It’s my opinion that cannabis does not belong on the CSA or any other “list” any more than pure H2O.

  8. There were some corporations that got so paranoid about the prospect of legalization that they laid off hundreds of employees, caused recessions, hacked into personal e-mails, and threatened and bullied innocent people if they admitted they’d vote in favor of it. They slandered people and believe that anyone who voted for it should be arrested and then killed. Religious extremists and other snobby people can be very scary. Honesty and ethics isn’t a “moral” value to prohibitionists. They’ll attack women, harass their children, try to ban you and then claim it’s for the greater good and to protect the nations morality. That is the klan’s religious values, but they won’t admit it. Then they’ll try to make you feel guilty by attacking you when you don’t repent when you’ve done nothing wrong.They’ll attack Jews, or anyone who isn’t a pious catholic or other fundamentalist prohibitionist hater. Now they’re going after cigarette smokers and anyone who is an independent voter and believes it’s o.k. to rebel against the master race. I’m a white girl, and I’ve had to deal with their BS too. Just because of that, I’m very glad that I chose to vote for legalization. Hate groups should be called out for what they are and stopped before more people get hurt.

  9. there were last year due to budget cuts only six, yep six people doing ALL those fish/seafood inspections and 99.9% never ever gets inspected. the label, fda inspected is sadly a “feel good” thing these days not at all proof of any kind that our food is safe. remember just summer before last when our s.e. colorado cantaloupes having been inspected, contaminated with listeria left 33 DEAD,…and hundreds sick. much like tsa security screens at airports USDA inspected labels are sadly more about psychology than actual safe food.

  10. Herbal supplements don’t have do go through randomized, double-blind, placebo testing to be legally on the market. Insisting that Cannabis has to go through the same testing regimen as synthetic drugs is completely inappropriate.

  11. I think what is amazing is that since the war on drugs began, pot has flourished. Not only has it flourished, but, the quailty and quantity has increased. Back in the 80s living in VA, the pot came to town once a week or so. Nowadays, the quality is through the roof and available within the hour. No waiting. Lets just hope when things finally go full legal, the politicians don’t get to greedy with taxes. If so it will stay underground, like it has for the last half century. Think about the high taxes on cigarettes, that caused all the smuggling of cigarettes from the south to northern states in the 60s and 70s.

  12. You have to ask yourself Mr. Denny why “Stop and Frisk” is not applied in white neighborhoods.

    And why a watch supervisor told an officer (from the link):

    “I have no problem telling you this,” his superior replied. “Male
    blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem to tell you
    this, male blacks 14 to 21.”

    Shouldn’t there be an actual crime, rather than “Round up the usual suspects.” ?

    You may recall there was a war in this country a long time ago and one of the complaints was general drag nets. I recall some fellers writing a short paper on this in 1776. And later in their governing document they placed a restriction on those sort of things by ammenting the document. The amendment was numbered four. Since gutted. And you know what administration set out to do the gutting? Reagan.

  13. ‘The West is the best / Get here and we’ll do the rest’ – Doors lyric, their name from the Huxley book Doors of Perception, about the meaning of mind expanding substances. And here we are. And Steves is a perfect messenger, definitely an astute social observer. His take on the East Coast is great. And true. Who was it in the 60s who said that the (Buddhist) Dharma is moving to the West Coast. Dharma as in a path of understanding, Ram Das? Anyway, you can see from the weed voting where some form of consciousness (with some form of playfulness) has grown. In the East the crap they go through in say, New York State, shows ages of sameness endured in a quaint landscape that even has a few large towns – you would think some cultural exposure…

  14. Sometimes within a person’s attempt to convey a message they use their point if view. Why not focus on the message and not how it’s delivered. Over your head I guess.

  15. That kind of slam does everyone interested in advancing legalization an injustice and merely alienates people
    It’s a challenge to educate people, but that the only viable way to advance this issue.

  16. Interesting how percentages are used to create faux arrest rates based on race, but the bottom line is that people, regardless of race, who intentionally do stupid/unlawful things will eventually get arrested.

  17. I’m not the one that brought a fictional character into the discussion. Merely questioned why. Why not go to one of the many religious forums and bring up your support for cannabis?
    This is not the place for religious proselytizing.

  18. Yep. To each his own. Pull away the vale of reason and see the message that is being expressed. It amazes me how easily one person can destroy a dialog in this discus forum. I get the feeling it is being purposefully inteferred with. Get an intellect.

  19. OK, I’ll bite. To which “god” are you referring – Odin, Zeus, Ganesh, Jupiter, Ra? All of their “followers” are just as deluded as you and deserve no place in a forum like this (which I heretofore had thought was populated by rational people).

  20. Please keep fictional entities out of the conversation! This isn’t a religious blog. There are plenty of forums for you to spew that tripe.

  21. Just like they’ve convinced the world that the Sabbath is Sunday. Under Gods original law the Sabbath is on Saturday. They have arrogantly replaced Gods law with mans law for centuries.

  22. “The Divide” by Matt Taibbi is a great book that shows how the criminal justice system has created two Americas.

  23. funny I thought your past comments sounded like they were coming from a glue huffer a lot more than schwank’s.

  24. Well if the bible thumping republican whores would just realize that the bible their thumping on has a creator behind it that created the greatest sources of food and medicine in the hemp and cannabis plants! Maybe just maybe one day they will have that ah ha moment when they believe in god and not their fellow man that thinks he knows better than GOD!!! Until then we have to deal with the evil and greed of the almighty dollar bill and the way it makes the world go around !!

  25. invisible man on

    Another injustice: laws that prevent people from freely growing their own hemp for food, fuel and fiber. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of nutrition. To forbid the people from growing hemp for food – that’s injustice! Hemp should be reclassified from Schedule 1 to food. If hemp were considered food instead of a Schedule 1 drug – we could begin to end world hunger.

    Speaking of a “common-sense message for justice” shouldn’t cannabis oil/products be reclassified from Schedule 1 to food supplements? According to the DSHEA of 1994 food supplements are basically unregulated.

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