If you’ve never been to Portland and have always wanted to attend America’s oldest and largest pro-cannabis conference, this is the year! From September 10 to 12, the city some residents fondly call “Potland” will host the 39th Annual NORML National Conference, our giant yearly gathering that always features the best cannabis-related speakers, activists, health and legal experts, panel discussions and social events.


This year’s conference theme: It’s Time to Legalize! It’s a fitting topic in Oregon, which was the first state to decriminalize cannabis possession in 1973. Meanwhile, Portland has recently joined Oakland as one of the few cities in North America to host a cannabis café.
           

At the conference, speakers and panels will examine marijuana law, drug testing, medical cannabis, hemp, the best practices for cannabusinesses, political activism and lobbying – plus the ever-popular, usually overflowing High Times cannabis-cultivation lectures. Celebrity speakers and guests are always in attendance at this most interesting of pro-cannabis confabs.
           

Why hold the conference in Portland? In anticipation of the major cannabis-law reform measures being introduced in the state legislature – as well as the ballot initiative that will be launched if elected policymakers fail to legalize cannabis. Oregon NORML petitioned the NORML board of directors nearly two years ago to convene the 2010 national conference in Portland to help focus movement attention and support on their vanguard legalization efforts.
           

The conference will convene at the historic, nationally landmarked Governor Hotel, located in the middle of the central business district, right on the free loop section of the Portland area’s transit system. From airport to hotel to social events, no car is necessary to attend. If you do arrive by car, the Columbia River Gorge, a dozen waterfalls, the Oregon coast and the always-captivating Mount Hood are all within an hour’s drive.
           

Added bonuses include touring Oregon NORML’s Cannabis Café and spending a few hours out at Kelley Point Park, at the confluence of the powerful Columbia and Willamette rivers, the location of the THC Foundation’s popular two-day Hempstalk – Oregon’s largest pro-cannabis “protestival,” which attracts thousands of hemp-friendly supporters to soak in some of the last warm weather in America’s Great Northwest, listen to the inspired music and speeches, and patronize dozens of eclectic retail booths.
           

Only the odds makers in Vegas can likely handicap the political race to become the first state in America to legalize cannabis for non-medical adult use. Will it be Oregon or California, Washington or Nevada? Whichever way it goes, 2010 is already shaping up to be one of the busiest and most productive years in the history of organized cannabis-law reform. So make plans now with your best buds to join like-minded cannabis consumers, reform activists and patients in “Potland” this September at NORML’s “It’s Time to Legalize!” national conference. 

 

Allen St. Pierre is the executive director of NORML in Washington, DC (888-67-NORML). For “early bird” pre-registration discounts, conference information, and photos and videos of previous NORML conferences, go to www.norml.org.