Best known for his PBS travel series Rick Steves' Europe, Rick Steves has become one of the nation's foremost and most recognizable marijuana law-reform advocates. He pitched in $350,000 to legalize it in his home state, Washington, in 2012.
Born on May 10, 1955 in Edmonds, Washington, Steves attended the University of Washington before he set off on his career path as a travel guide. His first book, Europe Through the Back Door, was self-published in 1980. He's since written more than 50 guide books. Eleven years later he started producing his TV series. He has more than 20 DVDs and Blue-ray discs covering all aspects of European travel. In 2005, Steves expanded to public radio with his Travel with Rick Steves program.
Two years earlier, the personable travel host took a surprising turn when he appeared as a speaker at the NORML Conference. "When I say I don't think we should lock up people for smoking pot, people think I'm pro-drug use," he said at the time. "I just say stop criminalizing people who do."
It was the first of numerous appearance in support of the pro-pot organization. He's since been voted onto NORML's Board of Directors.
When the campaign to legalize marijuana in Washington got going in 2011, Steves jumped aboard, contributing significant money in hopes of swaying the electorate to be the among the first states to end pot prohibition.
In an op-ed column in the Seattle Times three days before the election, Steves wrote: "There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you want to improve the well-being of children, redirect money away from criminals and into our state’s coffers or protect civil liberties, it’s clearly time for a new approach. Rather than being 'hard on drugs' or 'soft on drugs,' we can finally be smart on drugs with Initiative 502."
Steves was right. I-502 won by a 55%-45% margin. Legal marijuana sales began in July.
Back in 2006, Steves said he only smoked "overseas with Europeans friends," in pot-friendly places like Amsterdam. That has likely changed.
Steves is divorced and has two children.