Pot Talk is NORML in San Francisco

Annual conference addresses burning issues

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    LOS ANGELES - MAY 5, 2007: A model demonstrates how to prepare and roll a marijuana cigarette with a filter. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images)

    There will be a lot of pot talk in San Francisco over the next few days.

    But this won't be just any puff-puff-pass type of gathering. It's a normal event for experts and advocates; a legitimate conference aimed at exploring the uses and benefits of marijuana and the need for it's legalization.

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    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws brings together members from over 115 local NORML chapters with the most respected national voices to address marijuana legalization, decriminalization, regulation and medical cannabis access.

    The theme for this year's annual NORML National Conference is Yes We Cannabis, an obvious reference to President Barack Obama's stand on medical marijuana. The poster for the event, now in it's 38th year, features a rendering of Obama.

    Marijuana legalization is a hot topic and some say it could pull California out from the depths of the budget mess.

    Another issue the experts will be looking at over the course of the conference is the impact of illegal pot gardens and the Mexican drug cartels. The Bay Area has long been a favorite for illegal growers because the topography and climate provide perfect conditions for the plant to thrive.

    Democrat State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, a strong voice for the legalization and control of marijuana, is the highlighted speaker for the conference's opening day.

    Others expected at the conference include professors and authors who have studied and written about the need to legalize and regulate the plant will be holding talks and panels throughout the weekend.

    Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, will be among the guests and PBS travel author Rick Steves will also be appearing. Other celebrities are expected to attend, too. No word from Brad Pitt, who recently talked about his attention to artistic detail in joint-rolling on the HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher.