Saturday, April 21, 2012

" I believe the mature, adult, recreational use of marijuana is a civil liberty" (Rick Steves)


"Marijuana refreshes your perspective and allows you to see things in a different way. It's humbled me about my ability to really appreciate things. When you're not high, it reminds you that there might be more to appreciate about something than what you're seeing, hearing or tasting. . . .
"If someone doesn't take my tour or buy my guidebooks because of my stance on marijuana, I just think Europe will be more fun without them."
-- Rick Steves, in an LA Weekly "20 Questions" feature

by Ken

My friend and fellow armchair traveler Jim Dawson (known in these parts as movie reviewer extraordinaire; his site includes links to reviews he's published elsewhere, like this "A"-grade review of Damsels in Distress) knows I'm a big fan of Rick Steves's travels-in-Europe series for public television, and knew I'd be interested in an interview Rick did recently with LA Weekly, in which someone Jim thought looked to be about the least likely candidate on the planet, turns out to be not only a confirmed pothead but an unstinting advocate. He explains to interviewer Michael Goldstein:
I'm a travel writer and, for me, high is a place. Sometimes I want to go there. There's no good reason for my government to tell me I can't go to that place called high. I believe the mature, adult, recreational use of marijuana is a civil liberty.

There are plenty of other reasons to support the end of the war on marijuana. There's the fiscal side — we're wasting billions of dollars every year and losing lots of tax revenue to boot. There are the race and class part of it. There's the value of marijuana as medicine, and the harm reduction. If we take crime out of the equation, we can treat responsible use as a civil liberty and problem use as a health and education challenge.
"Today's marijuana laws," Rick says, "like the laws against alcohol during Prohibition — are causing more harm to our society than the drug they are designed to protect us from." But he's not much inclined to use pot during his travels, first because --
I'm so busy with my work while on the road that I don't have time to smoke pot. I wish I could smoke more. It distracts you and it takes time, so you don't have as much time in front of your keyboard.
But also because he could get into trouble.
In Denmark, where I've smoked with friends in Christiania -- an alternative community in Copenhagen -- I was told, "Be careful with marijuana. We have to arrest a couple of pot smokers every year to maintain favored trade status with the United States."
The interviewer asks why.
Marijuana is not legal anywhere because the United States made a trade law in the United Nations requiring everybody to keep marijuana illegal. Because of this law, any country that dares legalize marijuana will incur trade sanctions from the USA and all other signatories of that law. The United States has a lot of sway. That's why I hear the word decriminalized a lot. You can't legalize it, but you can say you're going to ignore it. It's embarrassing to be in a country that, ever since Nixon declared marijuana was the devil's weed, forces everyone to embrace reefer madness as a policy. Mexico has lost more than 40,000 people to the drug war. If you took the crime out of the equation, you'd take most of the money and the violence out of it, too.
The interviewer asks, "Do you think you've paid a price for your outspokenness?"
We all pay a price when we embrace a law based on lies. I'm one citizen who can get away with speaking out against our laws against pot. If someone doesn't take my tour or buy my guidebooks because of my stance on marijuana, I just think Europe will be more fun without them.
Oh yes, there's one last question: "What's your favorite music to medicate by?"
I like to play the piano when I'm high. Classical music, like Debussy, Schumann and Scarlatti.



At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, when he plays the piano he hits all the wrong notes but he doesn't know the difference or really care.

It should be mandatory that all congress people should start the day with a joint.

Then move them on to LSD. These lack of brains need a big shake up.

America gives new meaning to the term "Evil Empire".


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