"Benignly suburban" travel guru Rick Steves promotes drug law reform

April 1, 2008

Columnist Timothy Egan for The New York Times:  

He looks at the 800,000 Americans arrested every year on marijuana charges and wonders why the waste of time, money and lives. Year after year, nothing changes, except the faces of those in jail. He thinks marijuana should be decriminalized, and that drug use in general should be treated primarily as a health issue — as the Canadians, the British, the Swiss and others do.

His views are not novel. But it’s been fascinating to watch the reaction since Steves started speaking out on this. Sponsors of his television shows have hardly blinked. Cops and conservatives have told him how much they agree with him. And, less than a month ago, the Luther Institute gave Steves its annual Wittenberg Award, recognizing “outstanding service to church and society.” Steves is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

If it takes a churchgoing guidebook writer who spent his college years as a member of the marching band to call for an end to a tired war, so be it. The cheerleaders and architects of harsh drug laws — from Rush Limbaugh, who promised to take random drugs tests after admitting his addiction to pain pills, to the former drug czar Bill Bennett, who had a multimillion-dollar gambling habit — have been exposed as moral frauds.

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