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Project SAM on marijuana issues (March 20)


Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) is coming to Hawaii as part of its new national dialogue on policy issues related to marijuana use and legalization.

The organization will host community meetings on Oahu, Lanai and the Big Island to discuss marijuana use and the potential impact it has on health.

“The legalization of marijuana is moving fast in parts of the United States and it looks as though the domino effect could quickly move to other states such as Hawaii,” said former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Project SAM chairman. “We decided to bring SAM to Hawaii to spur discussions about marijuana use and misuse.”

Project SAM, has four main goals:

* To prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana” — and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children

* To promote research of marijuana’s medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications

* To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana

* To have an adult conversation about reducing the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest

“We are excited that Project SAM will be forming a Hawaii chapter and look forward to educating and engaging the community in a dialogue about marijuana,” said Kevin Sabet, SAM co-chairman and former senior advisor to the Obama Administration on national drug control policy.

Kennedy said an increase in marijuana use in Hawaii would have major consequences for children, the tourism industry, and the military.


In Hawaii, 53 percent of adolescents in high schools and middle schools who receive drug treatment, do so for marijuana. It’s the number one drug of abuse for kids in school, Kennedy said.

“Hawaii’s rates of marijuana use are significantly higher than in the rest of the country,” he said. “And fewer kids in Hawaii think smoking marijuana is harmful compared to kids in the United States as a whole. I have seen firsthand the debilitating effects of marijuana addiction. It’s more than just the addict, it’s the families who suffer too.”

He said kids who smoke marijuana have a 1 in 6 chance of becoming addicted and have significantly lower levels of IQ later in life.


SAM is also shedding light on the effect of marijuana legalization on Hawaii’s tourism industry:

“Will visitors embrace marijuana and continue to spend money at local establishments here in Hawaii in the future?” Kennedy asked. “Hawaii will become less family-friendly if marijuana is legalized, tourism will suffer and so will Hawaii residents’ quality of life.”


Project SAM proponents believe marijuana and Hawaii do not mix. A state with the highest per capital military spending in the country cannot afford to encourage more marijuana use.

Project SAM will inform lawmakers and the public about the dangers of marijuana addiction and legalization and will focus on practical solutions to problems faced by legal marijuana use.

The Big Island community meeting is 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, March 20 at Kanu O Ka Aina Charter in Waimea.

Project SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug.

Project SAM has taken its initiative to other parts of the United States including Colorado, Washington D.C. and Florida.

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7 Responses to “Project SAM on marijuana issues (March 20)”

  1. 4freedoms&liberties says:

    SAM are prohibitionists who OPPOSE your right to smoke MJ. They don’t want it decriminalized or legalized. Beware this organization…

    • not.patrick.kennedy says:

      You are right. They have not proposed any legislation to reduce marijuana penalties. They want to maintain the status quo of ‘treatment’ backed by the threat of jail time.

  2. Jose says:

    SAM needs to find a time machine so they can go back to 1970.

  3. ded says:

    I do not smoke pot but think that putting people in prison for it is evil and wrong…cops and prosecutors need to take up knitting and stop destroying people’s lives when they engage in a HARMLESS pastime. There is always someone who overdoes EVERYTHING…it’s called LIFE

  4. Mark Slaugh says:

    Project SAM is committed to prohibition and NOT to “public health”. It is not marijuana that poses a threat to our society- it has never killed anyone and is safer than alcohol and less physically dependent than caffeine or nicotine. It is the prohibition of marijuana from the workplace to prisons that is truly concerning.

    Tourism will be boosted in HI if they chose to regulate cannabis commerce instead of leaving it in the streets which naturally makes the distribution more dangerous. Remember AL CAPONE? The prohibition camp in America has become the minority and Project SAM is a last ditch effort of the old resiting inevitable change. Anyone really looking to help society should call Colorado, not Project SAM.

  5. not.patrick.kennedy says:

    “Rather than promoting medical marijuana through smoking, SAM promotes research of medical properties to produce non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications”

    Just like all prohibitionists; SAM wants you to do ‘their drugs’ not ‘stop doing drugs’.

    The medical marijuana industry currently offers ‘non-smokeable’ concentrates and edibles at the fraction of the cost of pharmaceuticals like Marinol. Sabet and Co. just want to make more money for their drug company friends.

  6. ZekeTX says:

    This is a toughie. I think decriminalizing pot is the RIGHT thing to do. People already smoke it and will continue to; why not tax it and take the crime and violence out of the mix? More money for Hawaii, less burden on the jails and judicial system. Then maybe cops can fight REAL crime.
    My worry though is that legalization in Hawaii will affect tourism. No matter how much we may dislike tourists, they are our state’s lifeblood, unfortunately. Do we want the big-money tourists not to come, and open the door for more druggie-hippie trash (like has infested Puna) showing up instead?
    Maybe do like Holland is doing: make it legal for residents only!


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