Fresh Ideas for a Tired Crusade

Many of you will be familiar with my colleague and fellow guidebook writer Rick Steves, author of the famous Rick Steves guides to Europe. Rick also runs a tour company called Europe Through the Back Door based in Edmonds, Washington. His TV and radio programs reach millions of Americans.

Yesterday the New York Times ran an article about another side of Steves. Fresh Ideas for a Tired Crusade by Timothy Egan documents Rick’s public stand against the US government’s “War on Drugs”. Every year millions of Americans are jailed or otherwise humiliated for possession of small amounts of marijuana. And the cops on the front line of the “War on Drugs” are fully aware of the stupidity of it all. Yet American politicians prefer to hang tough on drugs to garner red neck votes rather than admit the obvious. Here in Canada, Harper does the same.

Addiction is an issue which reaches into many North American homes. President George W. Bush and Premier Gordon Campbell are both reformed alcoholics and onetime drunk drivers. Cindy McCain, wife of John, was once a pill popper. Barack Obama has admitted to smoking pot when he was young. Bill Clinton tried pot too, although he didn’t inhale! As Egan points out in the article, many of the “War on Drugs” hawks have been addicts themselves: Rush Limbaugh to pain killers and Bill Bennett to gambling. What is needed is treatment of dangerous addictions and not the incarceration of recreational marijuana users.

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