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“All Things Cannabis” Opens in Portland

September 11, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's All Things Cannabis" in Portland this weekend, as criminal defense attorneys, health experts and government officials gather at a convention to talk about the state's medical marijuana program, how much marijuana offenses cost taxpayers, and the science on pre-natal exposure to the drug.

Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann is one of the speakers. He claims public support is growing for legalizing possession of small amounts of pot, and public support is even stronger for funding treatment for people with addictions rather than spending money locking them up.

"The real emphasis is on reducing the role of the criminal justice system as much as possible in ways that are consistent with health and public order."

In this era of Oregon budget woes, Nadelmann says shifting to more treatment instead of incarceration is a necessity.

"For Oregon, clearly, continuing to incarcerate people for simple drug possession, keeping them in long periods of time, just makes no sense in terms of economic resources."

The idea of taxing, controlling and regulating marijuana has been floated recently in California, with an estimate that legalization would bring the state more than $1 billion a year in tax revenue and cut prison costs by hundreds of millions. Opponents argue that legalization would likely lead to more addiction and health problems. Federal statistics show the number of those currently seeking treatment for addiction to marijuana is second only to the number needing help kicking heroin.

The conference runs Friday and Saturday at the Red Lion Hotel, Convention Center, Portland. Information is available at www.ocdla.org/shop-seminar-2009-cannabis.shtml.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - OR