PORTLAND, Ore- He's something of a folk hero to the cannabis community. He was the only speaker at a pot convention to get a standing ovation. Democratic congressman Earl Blumenauer is beloved for his work to help Oregon become the first state to decriminalize marijuana 41 years ago, and he's kept at it ever since.
The work is paying off. Pot is now a booming business, a $2.6 billion industry nationwide.
Washington and Colorado are at the forefront as the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults, and Blumenauer thinks Oregon isn't far behind.
"I think the ballot measure that is being developed has a very strong likelihood of being approved," Blumenauer said.
That's exactly what the people who attended Saturday's pot convention are hoping for, they had no problem shelling out $350 to hear from industry experts, seeking advice on how to get in on the marijuana business.
Kaliko Castille opened a Portland-based medical marijuana dispensary in September, already he's got ten people on the payroll. He hopes Oregon voters will approve full legalization so he can continue to grow his business.
"We are constantly talking about how we can't find jobs across the country, this is an industry that's ready to pop," Castille said.