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Chants of a different sort greet U.S. Rep. Omar upon her return home to Minnesota. Also on our Friday rundown: A new report says gunshot survivors need more outreach, support. Plus, sharing climate-change perspectives in Charlotte.

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“Cannabis at the Capitol” Comes to Bozeman

September 18, 2009

Bozeman, MT - Cannabis at the Capitol, a day of educating and rallying for medical marijuana rights, comes to Bozeman today. Physicians, nurses, and criminal defense experts will gather to talk about the state's medical marijuana program, cannabis as a chronic pain treatment, how much marijuana offenses cost taxpayers, and the latest updates on the nation's "war on drugs." The event, sponsored by the medical-marijuana advocacy group Patients & Families United, is billed as a rally for cannabis policy reform and mirrors a controversial event held in the state Capitol building in February.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, 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 state budget woes, Nadelmann says, it is necessary to examine legalization and shifting to more treatment instead of incarceration.

"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 introduced 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 of dollars. Opponents argue that legalization would likely lead to more addiction and health problems. A live, flowering - and reportedly legal - cannabis plant will be on display at the events.

The Cannabis at the Capitol Comes to Bozeman events will take place at the Bozeman Holiday Inn throughout the day.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT