One nutty guy

By John Owen | Jan 12, 2012

Rick Steves is a former Edmonds piano teacher, an enormously successful travel writer, lecturer and tour leader but if you mention his name in a crowd of 10 or more somebody will comment:

"Isn't he 'The Pot Guy?"

Well, he has certainly assumed a major role in efforts to decriminalization marijuana and if you  want to  to know how he became involved in the issue, an explanation will be offered when Steves appears at a Social Justice forum at the Edmonds Unitarian Church at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20.

The church is located at 8109 224th St. SW.

I'll give you a tip, based on personal knowledge.  

My wife and I have participated in several Europe Through the Back Door tours and although Steves was not the leader, his appointed representatives had one thing in common.  

They were all "users."

For recreational use the ETBD guides introduced us to a habit-forming product with the brand name "Nutella."  

Before long we were also making pit spots at food stores across Europe to stock up on this famous Italian-made hazelnut cream.  

Habit forming?  You'd better believe it.

In Venice, he were invited by another ETBD tour guide to participate in an "Italian pub crawl."  

We visited several wine bars frequented by local laborers who were soon entranced by young American women in our tour group. We did not feast on Nutella  on these occasions but we imbibed a lot of sour, green wine which evolved from a secret formula revealed by the  proprietor's elderly grandfather.  

At least that is what we were told.

Great hazelnut cream and bad wine.

I remember both from our ETBD tours, along with uncounted pints of stout or porter from an across-Ireland excursion.  

Nobody in a leadership role or among the tourist pack was sniffing or smoking anything that could be considered illegal or immoral.

So why has Steves earned the reputation as "The Pot Guy?"

Well, for starters he has spent a lot of time in Europe where marijuana is treated as a "soft drug" in the same category as liquor and tobacco.

"I don't support children using marijuana or alcohol or tobacco," he emphasizes  "I don't advocate smoking marijuana at all," he adds, "but if mature adults want to smoke marijuana recreationally in the privacy of their own homes that is their decision."

Those who hear Steves' presentation at the local church Jan. 20 will also learn the toll our anti-marijuana laws have taken on our overtaxed justice system.

There is one drawback to this event.  

Hang around Rick Steves long enough and you may get hooked on Nutella.

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