On November 28, travel TV host Rick Steves testified at a state senate hearing in Chicago, Illinois about his support of cannabis. Beyond travel, Steves is a vocal catalyst for cannabis reform in multiple states.
“This is not a pro-pot movement. This is an anti-prohibition movement,” Steves said at a press conference. After pushing for legal cannabis in his home state of Washington, Steves is working on Illinois.
Steves argued that people are consuming cannabis with or without legislation, and that prohibition causes more problems than solutions. He also pointed out that laws target the poor and people of color.
Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy sponsor Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353, which would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and allow retail stores in Illinois. Steves joined both lawmakers in Chicago on Tuesday. Illinois could join the eight states that allow recreational cannabis sales.
Steves worked with the ACLU on the program, Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation and participated in other events like Hempfest. Steves is also a NORML board member. “Last year over 800,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges—a 100 percent increase since 1980,” Steves stated on his website. Well over 80 percent of these arrests were for simple possession. Many of these people were sentenced to mandatory prison time. Our courts and prisons are clogged with non-violent people whose only offense is smoking, buying or selling marijuana.”
Steves rose to stardom with the PBS travel documentary series Rick Steves’ Europe and radio show Travel with Rick Steves. Since then, his role in activism has taken more priority. Steves’ efforts have helped pave the way for recreational cannabis in Washington, and he could help future effort in Illinois as well.