As Nina Shapiro notes in her must-read profile of Alison Holcomb, renowned travel writer Rick Steves has been central to Holcomb's effort to bring the message of decriminalizing marijuana to a mainstream audience.
Steves tells Shapiro that his travels have influenced his way of thinking about marijuana.
"I've spent time in societies where smoking a joint is about as exciting as opening a can of beer, and it doesn't seem to mess up those societies," he says in the piece.
Which got us curious: If Steves is so great at tips on how to skip lines at the most popular basilicas (seriously, if you go to Venice, check out the one for St. Mark's), what kind of country-by-country insight could he offer for marijuana policy?
In a follow-up email to The Daily Weekly, Steves said it was "tough to talk in generalities about drug policy in Europe as each country handles their challenges differently," but offered a few notes on specific counties, which can be found on the map below.
But even more interesting than those tidbits were the two thing he did generalize about:
The common denominator of most European drug policy that I've noticed is that it is driven by pragmatic harm reduction and the belief that when you take the crime out of the equation and treat it as a health and education challenge, it's better for society. The other common thread: all nations are extorted to a certain degree to keep marijuana illegal because of a law the USA has created via the United Nations that requires all signatories to wage trade sanctions on any nation that legalizes marijuana.