Rick Steves to speak on state marijuana initiative Friday at Edmonds church

Rick Steves

European travel expert Rick Steves will be speaking about Initiative 502 — an effort to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana that is likely to be on the Washington State ballot this fall– at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.

According to a church announcement, Steves “will offer perspectives from his experiences in Europe, where drug use is treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one.”

Edmonds Universalist Church is located at 8109 224th St. S.W., Edmonds. Child care is available for members and affiliates of EUUC.

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  1. I look at the issue of marijuana use from the perspective of a former teacher in a middle school where I observed students and parents who were users. Making it legal gives the message it’s okay and will make it easier for the young people to have access to marijuana.. In talking to drug and alcohol counselors not one would recommend legalization. We have to be caredul of unintended consequences. Basing our decision on what is good in the Netherland s with a population of 16,000,000 is not a good basis for a decision. Our culture is different. It’s better to work on improving the home life and eliminating the causes of young people wanting to blot out the negative in their life with a drug that impairs the brain.

  2. Barbara,
    I do understand your concerns due to the size and culture difference and can respect your apprehension. However the science to prove the marijuana isn’t very dangerous is there. Please read up on the Journal of American Medicine to see the benefits of this drug, in fact it contains nueroprotectors that keep cognitive function up https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10863546. I smoke regularly and enjoy many activities of the scholarly and physical world without impairment. I think that you should open your mind and realize that it’s our own understanding of the drug that is dangerous and not the drug itself. Rick Steve’s is an learned and well traveled individual who has a perspective worth listening to. I would advise you to go find some nice mellow sativa and a nice walk, enjoy the world around you 🙂 Teaching our children moderation and balance is the key thing in life not complete abstention.

  3. I respect and reject opinions that say that marijuana “isn’t very dangerous”. I believe it is just as dangerous as alcohol and maybe because it is held to be so not very dangerous it is a more insidious drug than many others.
    Marijuana will inhibit your inhibitions just like any other depressant. It will also do so for long after you use it because it absorbs into your fat tissues and then leaches back out into your blood stream when the concentration in your blood stream is cleaned by your liver. This is why we had “stoners’ years ago and why you can find them still. It takes 30 days or longer for the marijuana chemicals to get out of your system. Don’t believe me, ask anyone that has used it and had to take a urinalysis test for it.
    For those of you so hot on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, I ask you these questions: Will you let a surgeon who has smoked it perform a delicate surgery on you? Will you fly in an airplane with a pilot you know to have been using it? Do you want the police to make critical lethal decisions having been using marijuana? I say that if you can’t say yes then apparently there are harmful affects and people should not use it for recreation. And don’t say that we could exclude those people because that would prove my point that it does have harmful affects.
    And think about the way it is used. The smoke is held in the lungs as opposed to the way that cigarettes are smoked. Marijuana has carcinogenic properties just like tobacco and the way it is smoked makes it worse. It is ironic that marijuana is being used by cancer patients to mitigate the problems with their treatments to fight cancer.

  4. “I ask you these questions: Will you let a surgeon who has smoked it perform a delicate surgery on you? Will you fly in an airplane with a pilot you know to have been using it? Do you want the police to make critical lethal decisions having been using marijuana?” – How many of those professionals have done the same either drunk/hungover from the effects of alcohol? Or addicted to medication? Or other illegal drugs? How many times have you heard or read on the news that a traffic accident was caused from nothing more then smoking mj….and then how many times have you heard an accident was caused by alcohol? Why isn’t alcohol illegal? How many millions of lives has that destroyed?

  5. Those of you defending your right to use marijuana only have to open your eyes and look around at your family and friends who love you, and are heart-broken by your use of marijuana or alcohol or mind-numbinb drugs, legal or otherwise. You don’t live in this world alone. You have parents, children, sisters and brothers, and friends who see you when you are drunk or stoned. Who cannot depend on you in an emergency, Who won’t bring their friends home because they are embarrassed by you. You think you are just “relaxing”, or “taking the edge off”, or “kicking back”. You are selfish. And by the way, teens and young people are affected by alcohol and marijuana, sometimes permanently. Especially when they drive impaired. I am sad and disappointed that Rick Steves, a man I admired, who is a father, defends the legalization of marijuana, because that is what is he doing.

  6. Rick is a smart man…..smarter than most around town…almost as smart as i.

    i would like to hear what he has to say and would suggest others try as well.

    you don’t need to go buy a dime bag after….but you may learn something.

  7. The key is balance and common sense. Coffee, sugar, sex, and alcohol are legal and natural and have their place. We are supposed to have the freedom for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A common sense person does not drink alcohol and drive, fly an airplane, or perform surgery and that is self-evident. A common sense person does not eat just sugar laden foods. As humans, we can abuse ourselves and this is not a matter to legislate. The problem comes when self use or abuse negatively impacts others. This is already covered by the Golden Rule and religious teaching. Everyone knows the hypocrisy perpetrated around pleasurable substances that allows some to be legal and others not. Pleasurable substances are part of the enjoyment of life. It would be great if teachers could teach students how to discover what their purpose is and what they are doing here in this life. This is the ultimate learning experience for us all, and experience is also a teacher. Then the use of pleasurable substances is put into a self-regulating state of balance.

  8. Well said Greg . . “The key is balance and common sense.” I am an individual that sees both medical (for my MS Dx) & pleasurable benefits from marijuana. I am a present provider for my wife and kids, and they (nor my employer) have any day to day knowledge of my use. No one in my life knows unless I tell them, kinda like my MS. It works for me and doesn’t affect them.

    I was raised to respect Alcohol (in a Caribbean party family that drank alot!). I saw adults drink responsibly. We have not 1 Alcoholic. “Balance and common sense.” Instead of vilifying and giving misguided attention to a plant that god created, harms few while doing widespread good, we should focus on the drugs that we are more concerned about making money on (Booze, Rx, Tobacco, etc) that threaten public safety. Can you imagine if marijuana finally came out to have been the primary cause of an unintended death? Then we’ll really hear how marijuana is “a more insidious drug than many others”

    Paul your insights are very detailed and appreciated. Everyone should know what any drug (or food for that matter) is doing to their body.

  9. I know at least 5 people that I grew up with in California that we would all consider stoners. i.e. they smoked every day then and they smoke every day now. These people are passive c students in their personal and career objectives. We would say as a group that they haven’t done much.
    On the other hand we all know many alcoholics, in our families and around town who
    have ruined themselves and their families because of serious drinking. Drinking is more violent , destructive and disrupts more families then the stoned out crowed. I would rather be around people that are high then people that are drunk. What to do?
    either way society loses. I will be listening to Rick Steves

  10. I have not formed an opinion on whether or not marijuana should be legalized, but I agree with Barbara Chase that this decision should be made without using any European country as a reference. There is a big gap between the norm for European social issues and ours.

    I have spent considerable time in Europe, beginning with a year in Germany with the air force, and ending with 15 years of responsibility for subsidiary companies in all European countries. Needless to say, I have traveled there extensively and frequently for each of those years . Workers there get 6 or 7 weeks of vacation, along with extra pay so that their vacations can be more enjoyable. This perk, coupled with high use of sick leaves, severely impacts their productivity. In order to be profitable, companies are forced to sell their products there at much higher prices than they are sold for in the U.S. Everyone is now aware that for the European’s their economic model has finally “come home to roost”.

    We don’t want to follow the European’s economic model, nor do we want to follow their social model – particularly the Netherlands’. Amsterdam is the graffiti capital of the world; prostitution is legal; 16 is the age of consent, and there has been a move in parliament to reduce it to 12. And regular church attendance for most of Europe is only a fraction of ours.

    In general Europe is a wonderful place to visit, but not a place to emulate.

  11. Trying to make our country “free” while also keeping it safe is a tough balancing act, and we have to acknowledge that we will never be able to achieve either goal fully. Too much freedom, and we get Gulf oil spills, scam artists, etc… Too much “safety” and we get Prohibition, restrictions of freedom to assemble or speak, etc….

    In this case, the discussion is the freedom for adults to use marijuana. Not for middle school kids. And not mandating consumption for all.

    The litmus test for law that I learned from John Stuart Mills book “On Liberty” is that we should have the freedom to do whatever we want, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights, property, or persons of others. Seems to fit our Constitutional ideal.

    Making marijuana legal can fit this definition, as long as we take some precautions to ensure the adverse effects on others are considered. Such as, age limits for purchase and consumption, and very stiff sentences for providing to minors. Similar to alcohol and prescription drugs, a strong DUI enforcement as well. Other professional organizations already have constraints on the use of medications and other supplements that affect performance, so this is nothing new for them to add to their internal regulations.

    Our prisons are jammed full of people who were recreationally using marijuana and other drugs. Not that they were harming anyone, but that they were using the drug on themselves. We should focus our efforts on absolutely constraining the behavior of those who are harming or potentially endangering others, instead of diluting our efforts by rounding up everyone with a handful of weed. This would increase the freedom of our population, increase the effectiveness of law enforcement actions, and directly address the harms to the rest of the population.

    Governing out of fear, and constraining the rights of others to enjoy whatever it is they want to enjoy, just because you fear it or don’t want to do it yourself, is inconsistent with the governing principles of our nation.

  12. Ron,

    Your reference to “sick leaves” — were you referring to a personnel policy or to marijuana? Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.

  13. Ron:
What do you think causes more traffic accidents? Alcohol or marijuana? Are you an advocate of going back to prohibition? Go check the statistics on which is worse in regards to driving under the influence. I think there are a lot of people out there who agree with me that comparing marijuana to alcohol in this regard is just silly.

    On the point of marijuana smokers being criminals: 42% of Americans admitted to smoking pot in a national survey. That is almost half the country. A lot of those people smoke marijuana for medical reasons. A lot of those people smoke occasionally as apposed to having a beer. Most of those people are your neighbors. Please know your facts. You have no more right to call marijuana smokers criminals as you do alcohol drinkers. Generalizing an extremely varied group of people is ignorant. 

    Alcohol use is highly associated with violent crime, whereas marijuana use is not. Alcohol use contributes to aggressive behavior and acts of violence, whereas marijuana use reduces the likelihood of violent behavior. Alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic violence and sexual assault and marijuana use does not. Alcohol use is prevalent in cases of sexual abuse and date rape, whereas marijuana use is not considered a contributing factor in cases of sexual assault and date rape. These are the facts. You can confirm them for yourself.

    Kids in middle and high school don’t become “alienated losers” because they smoke pot. They smoke pot because they feel alienated. Marijuana isn’t what needs to be fixed. Society needs to be fixed. Their parents need to be fixed. Bullies need to be fixed. The kids you are referring to have problems to begin with. Legalized alcohol in this regard, is just as abused. There are also plenty of kids who experiment with marijuana the same way they do with alcohol who are doing just that: Experimenting. Perfectly normal kids. Do I think underage people should smoke or drink? No. Does it happen regardless of legality? Yes.

    Currently underage kids have more access to marijuana than they would if it were legal because right now the people selling don’t care whether or not their buyers are underage. They’re just looking to make a profit. Don’t think that kids don’t already have access to whatever they want, legal or not. Believe me when I tell you, they do. Legalize marijuana, put dealers out of business, and make it harder for kids to buy. The kids who want to go through the hassle of getting it will still get it, just like they do alcohol and other drugs…but they’d be getting it from reputable stores, not drug dealers. You want your kids in a back alley with drug dealers? I don’t. 

    In countries where marijuana is legal, there doesn’t seem to be these issues that you bring up. There are no crazed criminals running around due to marijuana use. People aren’t crashing their cars due to marijuana use. Kids seem to be fairly well adjusted regardless of marijuana being legalized. In fact, Americans are twice as likely to try marijuana than the Dutch who have legalized the drug. If you do your research you’d find that countries that have legalized marijuana have absolutely no added problems to society as a result.

    There are findings now that marijuana is less detrimental than both alcohol and cigarettes in every regard. So what, exactly, is the problem with it’s legalization? The prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking. What came of it? Mobs. Gangsters. Escalating crime rates. People who want to smoke marijuana will (and already) do so, regardless of the legality. Would you rather see the huge profits go to our state, which desperately needs it, or drug dealers? That alone is a good enough reason for legalization, in my opinion. I’d much rather have that money go to social services such as police and fire stations, education, infostructure, etc. than to drug dealers.

    I’m not speaking as a habitual pot smoker (I’m not, any more than I’m a raging alcoholic), but as someone who is informed to the facts. Marijuana causes less harm than legal drugs in this country. That is the truth.

  14. Marijuana is actually a health policy issue, but in our country its a criminal issue. I am a nurse with 28 years experience, a master’s degree and non-user here to tell you that marijuana is shown to be safe, has never contributed to deaths on the road, over -doses or domestic violence. Compared to legal use of alcohol, which has time-tested evidence of the damage it does, including deaths directly connected to drunk driving, domestic violence, etc.. I find it interesting we choose to villify marijuana and accept the legal use with all the consequences attached, of alcohol use. Its a slippery slope when we play the game of “my drug is better than your drug”. Its fine for the president to invite someone to the White House for a beer while choosing to make marijuana a political issue. Medical marijuana is proven to improve the symptoms of chemotherapy, nausea, treats pain, and spacisity safely. But, again, instead the “government” chooses to institute a methadone program for chronic pain patients , the most unsafe drug on the planet! This drug is killing people, where marijuana is not. More people are dying of prescription drug use of pain killers and other prescription drugs at epidemic proportions currently. These drugs that are legal, and FDA approved are doing damage far beyond anything marijuana could even touch. Research https://safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=4177.

  15. The failed prohibition of alcohol should have taught us something. The failed prohibition of drugs in the US has done far more harm than the drugs themselves. here are some example of the side effects of the drug war:
    * users and families of users avoid seeking help due to social and legal ramifications
    * removes access to healthcare from those who need it the most
    * unregulated black market supports drug purity and strength disparities leading to overdoses and other side effect issues
    * put’s money into the pockets of organized crime
    * increases spread of diseases related to drug use due to lack of regulated alternatives
    * put’s sick people (addicts) in jail where tax payers pay for decades rather than in treatment where the issue might be caught early
    * increases rather than reduces the availability of drugs to minors. The back market does not card minors. The same guy that sells weed, might also sell meth, coke, and guns

    It’s ironic that many of the same folks concerned about excessive government spending can’t see where we are truly wasting funds. Meanwhile, we continue spending at least 40 billion taxpayer dollars a year trying to force our morals on others. 5% of the worlds population with 25% of the worlds prison population.

    Source for the 40 B figure: https://www.businessinsider.com/all-drugs-should-be-legalized-immediately-says-harvard-prof-2010-10

  16. According to the U.S. Beer Institute, beer purchases decreased by an average of 5 percent in the states with medical marijuana laws, and a new study from the University of Colorado-Denver found that the 16 states with legalized medical marijuana saw an average 9 percent drop in traffic deaths since their medical marijuana laws took effect.

    “The University of Colorado-Denver study found that the increase in legal use of medical marijuana often leads to a reduction in alcohol consumption. In these states, the researchers theorize, some people are smoking marijuana rather than downing booze”.

    Obviously the number of lives that could be saved would be far greater if ALL alcohol users were allowed to switch to marijuana and not just those with a medical condition.

    Marijuana has repeatedly been proven to NOT cause cancer, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, emphysema, or any other significant health issue, and its addiction potential is about on par with coffee.

    Legalizing adult marijuana sales will prevent a great deal of the violence, disease and death that’s being caused by alcohol. We must not wait until our loved ones have been harmed by alcohol before persuading our legislators to legalize adult marijuana sales!

  17. Here is a link to a story about the harmlessness of marijuana. If you read the article in its entirety, you will find that the title is misleading, as is usual in the pro-marijuana camp media.
    It says that marijuana in small amounts won’t harm the lungs but in higher use it probably will as it contains some of the same noxious chemicals as tobacco. I’m looking for a study that says marijuana will not cause cancer.

    In Lynnwood about 20 years ago now, there was a guy who caused a crash on 196th St. SW by I-5. He killed 6 people, if memory serves correctly. One of his drugs of choice was marijuana. While it wasn’t his only drug, it no doubt reduced his inhibitions and allowed driving outside of accepted rules.

    While I think it would be pretty difficult to overdose on marijuana, I still think it leaves you dopey for days after use. I’d rather not have people performing work, making things, or doing anything of a critical nature under any influence. If you have a study that shows that marijuana does not affect you at all even with small amounts of the psychoactive chemical in your system, I’d like to read it.


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