Pubdate: Sun, 12 Oct 2014
Source: Pottstown Mercury (PA)
Copyright: 2014 The Associated Press
Author: Nigel Duara, The Associated Press
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


Rick Steves smokes the occasional joint, but he's not arguing for
marijuana legalization in Oregon just because he likes to get high.

Steves, a nationally known guidebook author and host on public radio
and television, said Tuesday he's convinced that marijuana prohibition
in the U.S. operates solely to harm the poor and people of color, and
to profit off their punishment.

"It's not guys like me, rich white guys, who need it," Steves said
Tuesday at a downtown Portland hotel. "It's the people who are
arrested and cited, who are poor."

Steves is crisscrossing the western half of Oregon in support of a
ballot measure to legalize marijuana, a movement that picked up steam
in 2012 when Colorado and Washington state each approved legal
marijuana and commercial outlets to sell it.

None of it would have happened without a plummeting stock market in
2008, Steves said.

"When you look at the end of Prohibition, it came during the
Depression because they couldn't afford to jail all those guys,"
Steves said. "There's no coincidence that (marijuana legalization) was
taken seriously only after the Recession."

Steves didn't back a 2012 Oregon legalization measure because, he
said, it was "pro-marijuana," without any input from groups with a
stake in the measure, like law enforcement. This year's ballot
initiative, called Measure 91, is "anti-prohibition," Steves said.
Rick Steves, one of the country's most visible advocates of marijuana
legalization, speaks during an interview in Portland, Ore., last week.

The difference is the planning, he said - money in Measure 91 is set
aside for law enforcement, schools and drugtreatment programs. The
measure seeks to legalize the sale and taxation of marijuana in
Oregon. The drug is now legal for medicinal use.

The No on 91 campaign did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday
afternoon. The campaign, which draws most of its funding from law
enforcement groups, has said that marijuana legalization will make it
easier for children to access the drug.

Steves wrote in a book "Travel as a Political Act" that his
globe-trotting reveals marijuana decriminalization is good for society.

"There is this idea that there's this reservoir of people who will
immediately begin to smoke pot if it's legal and ruin their lives,"
Steves said. "In Europe, they've shown that that's not true." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard