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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Rep Patrick Kennedy: Marijuana is 21st Century Tobacco Industry
By News Release @ 4:19 AM :: 4139 Views :: Drugs


News Release from Project SAM 

HONOLULU – Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) has come to Hawaii as part of its new national dialogue on policy issues related to marijuana use and legalization. The organization will be holding four community meetings on Oahu, Lana‘i 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% 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 our 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 that 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. 

Community Meetings 


• March 18 at Kapolei High School, 6-7:30 p.m.

• March 19 at Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center in Kaneohe, 6-7:30 p.m. 

Big Island

• March 20 at Kanu O Ka Aina Charter in Waimea, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 


• March 21 at Koele Lodge, 1-3 p.m.  

About Project SAM

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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