The push continues to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. This time, support comes from a travel expert who wants to see the state adopt the European approach to cannabis.
Public broadcasting travel host Rick Steves calls it “an anti-prohibition movement.” That’s what his home state of Washington, as well as Colorado, started by legalizing marijuana in 2012. He has personally funded initiatives in several states to continue this movement.
“My friends in Europe look at the United States, where we are so quick to legislate morality,” Steves said, “and they tell me a society has to make a choice: Tolerate alternative life-styles or build more prisons.”
Steves was in Chicago to rally behind measures that would legalize marijuana use for adults in Illinois. He told an Illinois legislative committee that the governor of Washington has touted some of the benefits.
“My governor, Jay Inslee, wanted nothing to do with marijuana, and he was elected the day we legalized marijuana,” said Steves. “He’s so thankful we’re not diverting law enforcement to this silly issue. He’s so thankful he doesn’t have to arrest 8,000 people a year. And he’s really getting used to $300 million of tax revenue every year to fund all sorts of things.”
Steves says he stands behind measures sponsored by Chicago Democrats Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans (SB 316 and HB 2353), which would allow adults in Illinois to buy and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana or grow five plants.
Steves spoke at a hearing on legalizing marijuana and its impact on the state’s economy, with more expected to take place in the coming months. Earlier this year, a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll found nearly half of Illinois residents favor legalization.