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Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

You’re Ready To Grow Your Own Pot, Travel Guru Rick Steves Says

Marijuana plants growing at Seattle's first legal pot farm, Sea of Green.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman
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Marijuana plants growing at Seattle's first legal pot farm, Sea of Green.

Rick Steves doesn’t think Big Marijuana should control your pot. That’s one reason people in Washington state should be able to grow their own weed, Steves told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel.

“I don't want marijuana to go the route of tobacco and have Joe Camel and Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana” dominate the industry, Steves said. “If there's money to be made, it's going to attract big corporate interests and they're going to have the clout. I like the idea of having home grow because it gives people an option to having to buy something from a giant organization. They can just have a few plants on the window sill, and it's not a big deal.”

The host of Travels With Rick Steves was a big supporter of the state’s original marijuana initiative, I-502, which passed in 2012 and took effect last year. Now he supports a proposal to allow people to grow six of their own marijuana plants. It could be considered next year in the state Legislature.

He said that because the state was one of the first to legalize pot, the first laws had to be conservative.

“People just didn't know what it was going to be like to open a floodgate,” he said. “A lot of people were nervous that there was a whole reservoir of decent people that were just going to ruin their lives smoking pot and our whole community would become one big giant out-of-control hempfest. And we had to respect that. And we had to be very strict on home grow, on DUI concerns, on advertising limits and all these things and take things in baby steps.”

All along, Steves said, the idea was to craft an initiative that could pass. This next step would come later.

“My hunch was that we would follow the same evolutionary track that alcohol followed back in Prohibition a few generations ago, where different communities get to decide how strict they want to be,” he said.

Washington is the only state that has legalized marijuana but doesn’t allow home growing. Cultivate your own without a license and you could get up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine – double that if you do it within 1,000 feet of a school, park or drug-free housing project. And police can seize your car or other property. Public consumption is also illegal.

Steves says that doesn’t make any sense.

“It’s just time to stop locking people up for smoking pot and for using it responsibly as adults,” he said.

Produced for the Web by Gil Aegerter.