Drugs

Rick Steves Has 3 Must-Sees for a Jeff Sessions European Drug Policy Tour

The travel guru is willing to personally help the attorney general find enlightenment.

Rick Steves On the Record
Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

PBS star and travel guidebook author Rick Steves is a prominent advocate of marijuana legalization and drug reform. For years, he has advocated a more moderate, European-style approach to drug policy.

He has played a leading role in bringing the public around in Washington state, which legalized weed in 2012, and continuing to make his high-profile calls for more enlightened drug policies. But now, the Trump administration, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in particular, are trying to put the brakes on, and that got Steves thinking.

In response, as Rolling Stone reports, Steves has combined his travel savvy and his drug reform advocacy to propose an eye-opening, pot-centric European travel itinerary tailor-made for Sessions in the hope some Old World tolerance would rub off on him.

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Here are the three must-sees on the European drug policy tour Steves created for Sessions. 

1. Switzerland. "I would take him to Switzerland and we'd go to a heroin maintenance clinic," Steves said, referring to the country's pioneering, non-criminal approach to opioid addiction.

2. Barcelona. Cannabis clubs are allowed there. "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."

3. The Netherlands. Steves would take the attorney general to one of those famous Dutch "coffee shops" where adults can legally purchase small amounts of weed. "After the coffee shop, we'd visit a mayor and a policeman and have [Sessions] listen to the mayor and policeman explain why they'd rather have coffee shops than have marijuana sold on the street," Steves says.

Although Steves inexplicably neglected it, there is one other European destination that could be an eye-opener for Sessions: Portugal. The Iberian nation decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001. Not only is it still standing, Portugal has drug use levels similar to other European countries, but without all the arrests.

Of course, Sessions is unlikely to take Steves up on his offer and even more unlikely to be convinced by saner European approaches, but Steves' point is still made: There are better ways of dealing with drug use and abuse. We just have to acknowledge them.

Phillip Smith has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. Smith is currently a senior writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute