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Merkley to speak at International Cannabis Conference

Jeff Merkely of Oregon was the first U.S. senator to endorse recreational cannabis legalization, according to New Approach Oregon.

JAIME VALDEZ/PAMPLIN FILE PHOTO - U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, speaks during a Pamplin Media Group editorial board meeting in Portland in January 2018.If you hadn't noticed, marijuana is no longer taboo – even in national politics.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, has agreed to give a prerecorded welcome message to attendees of the International Cannabis Conference.

It's just "another example of how cannabis legalization has gone mainstream," according to Eugene-based New Approach Oregon, the coalition that brought Oregon Measure 91 in 2014 to legalize recreational cannabis.

The conference is slated to be held in Portland Sept. 27 and 28 at the Hilton Portland Downtown. The event is something of a homecoming for the conference: The inaugural conference was hosted in Portland four years ago.

Other conferences have been held in Vancouver, British Columbia; Berlin and San Francisco.

Merkley's welcome message is equally significant as the location. He was the first U.S. senator to endorse cannabis legalization when he backed Measure 91 four years ago, according to New Approach Oregon.

The message is being recorded because Merkley has to be in Washington, D.C., for Senate floor sessions.

"But the ICBC is so pleased that he is willing to take the time to welcome attendees in Portland," the ICBC said in a statement Wednesday, Aug. 1.