PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — You may have heard the name Rick Steves before, if you watch PBS. He's been the host of various travel shows on the network for the past 20 years.
He's also a big supporter of legalizing marijuana, and he's in Maine talking about that this week.
Steves made a stop Monday at the “Yes on 1" campaign headquarters in Portland.
In an interview there, he told NEWS CENTER there are a number of reasons why he supports legal pot. The main one: his belief that using marijuana is a civil liberty.
Others include keeping people out of jail and generating tax revenue from its sale.
Steves is an occasional social marijuana user and has given $100,000 to the Yes on 1 campaign here in Maine. He lives in Washington State where pot is legal and says its benefits have become apparent in the states that allow recreational pot.
“Two years ago, I was a co-sponsor and a co-funder and a spokesperson for the similar law in Oregon," he said. "This year, I've decided to visit Massachusetts and Maine and raise awareness.”
Members of the No on 1 campaign question Steves’ motives. They believe Steves' support for Maine's proposed laws undermines Maine's existing medical marijuana market and could lead to out-of-state businesses profiting from a recreational marijuana market here.
A handful of No on 1 protesters showed up during Steves’ visit to the Yes on 1 headquarters, saying the referendum may allow people like Steves to make money off new businesses that could spring up after the election.
“We knew that this guy Rick Steves was coming from Washington,” Dennis Hammac said. “He's been giving them money left and right to come in and screw our medical program the way he did over in Washington.”
Steves will be in Portland on Tuesday as well. He’ll be part of a panel discussion at the Portland Public Library at noon.