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Headline: Feb.14.08Steves, ACLU Join Forces for Pot Law Reform – The host of the popular PBS travel series, “Rick Steves’ Europe” is working with the American Civil Liberties Union to educate the public to the urgent need for change in America’s marijuana laws. Together, they have produced, “Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation“, a new television broadcast debuting in the state of Washington:Marijuana: It’s Time For A Conversation [Part 1 of 3]

Now on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Rick Steves’ experience in Europe is the primary reason he feels compelled to criticize America’s war on marijuana, having seen firsthand that a decriminalization approach is superior and that we need to follow the European trend of differentiating between “hard” and “soft” drugs.

nml.gifIn this video from the 2007 NORML Convention in Los Angeles, CA, Rick Steves speaks to Dean Becker, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the Drug Truth Network, about concerns of law enforcement,  the European model of treating Cannabis use as a health issue – not a criminal one, and his  view of the general use of marijuana as a civil rights issue.Rick Steves Smokes Pot –

The American Civil Liberties Union has also seen the civil rights issue in the drug war, including racial disparities and violations of the Bill of Rights. According to ACLU research,  $7.5 billion is spent annually for marijuana law enforcement in America, with 830,000 arrested each year.

Formerly Executive Director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser is now President of the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform organization working for reform of all drug laws. The DPA held it’s 2007 annual convention in New Orleans, drawing attention to the racial unfairness of the drug war. In this video from DPA, Ira Glasser speaks to a local television reporter about these issues.War on Drugs is the New Jim Crow in New Orleans

Rick Steves has been an outspoken advocate of change in marijuana laws for five years, even appearing at the Seattle Hempfest, the largest gathering of Cannabis advocates and culture in the world. In this video, Rick Steves tells the 2007 Hempfest crowd last August that we need to “Get Smart about Drugs”Rick Steves at Seattle HempFest 2007

Rick always points out that the current “War on Drugs” is nothing but prohibition all over again, with no better results than alcohol prohibition. Indeed, the drug war is in many ways worse than alcohol prohibition (which actually was decriminalization) and has no easy way out, like repeal in 1932. The current prohibition/industrial complex is an entrenched bureaucracy of titanic proportions, consuming around a billion dollars per week (combined state and federal). As federal funding winds down due to lack of resources, the American public must find creative ways out of the mess wrought by the drug warriors. If we don’t, chaos will ensue as we are left with the lawlessness of the prohibition, with no tools to confront it and no guidance to find our way out.

ben2.jpgThere never was a good war or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin (1773)