Article by Kim Bellware, Rolling Stone
In the minds of many American small government supporters, Europe is the quintessential nanny state – a place where big government intrudes on personal choices to protect citizens from themselves. But when it comes to regulating cannabis, it’s Europe that values personal responsibility over prohibition.
For years, PBS star Rick Steves has tried to persuade U.S. policymakers that Europe offers a superior approach to regulating weed. The affable host of Rick Steves’ Europeand prolific travel guidebook author is also a longtime anti-prohibition advocate who leans into his wholesome image and decades of European exploration. Meeting by meeting, he tries to persuade U.S. policymakers of the social and financial ways that Europe has thrived – or at least not slid into chaos – after legalization.
Those efforts were increasingly successful over the last decade as states like Washington and California legalized weed entirely, while other states decriminalized possession or relaxed laws for medical use. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is determined not only to hit the brakes on that progress, he’s ready to go in reverse.
Steves credits his European travels for opening his eyes to a more creative and sensible approach to drug policy. Last week, he indulged in creating a pot-centric, eye-opening European travel itinerary tailor-made for Sessions on the off chance some of the old world’s tolerance could rub off on the AG.
“I would take him to Switzerland and we’d go to a heroin maintenance clinic,” Steves says of the Swiss clinics where even hard drugs like heroin are not treated with a carceral approach.
Next, Steves says they’d hit a Barcelonan cannabis club. “In Spain they can’t sell marijuana but they can grow it. In practice, they don’t want to grow it so they join a club that grows it collectively, and they can enjoy the harvest.”
Then, Steves says it would be off to the Netherlands where he and the attorney general would visit a Dutch “coffee shop,” where adults can buy a variety of cannabis items in limited quantities from a reputable seller.