The Governor Hotel, a luxury hotel that "boasts 100 years of superb hospitality and service", reeks of weed.
The posh hotel is hosting the national conference for the country's leading marijuana advocacy group, NORML, which means I just got to watch a dozen people smoke up in the Vault Room, a dim and ornately decorated room that for this weekend is known as the "Medication Lounge." The sharply-dressed hotel wait staff seems amused.
Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer kicked off the conference, delivering a 20 minute speech about the common sense arguments for decriminalizing marijuana nationwide. What really swayed Blumenauer's mind was Hermiston pig farmer and state representative Stafford Hansel, who way back in the 1970s successfully pushed the politicians down in Salem to decriminalize pot in the state.
"That had a profound effect on me, I was a child legislator at the time, much smarter than I am today, deeply involved with a host of issues, but not this one," Rep Blumenauer told the crowd today. "I had never smoked marijuana or been involved with illegal drugs, still haven't. But I will tell you, listening to this man, straight as an arrow, he didn't smoke tobacco, didn't drink alcohol, I don't think he drank coffee... Stafford called on the legislature to legalize two pints [of pot] for personal consumption."
Blumenauer's main point is that if people are going to continue buying pot, which they are, the money should at least be going to a good cause rather than violent cartels.
"There is no reason that drug revenue should be used to enrich some of the worst people on the planet. It should be used to fund education and government services," says Blumenauer.
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