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Anti-Legalization Group to Host Marijuana Dialogue in Waimea

March 19, 2013, 11:33 AM HST
* Updated March 19, 1:44 PM
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Project “SAM” (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) will be coming to the Big Island as part of their effort to promote a new national dialogue on policy issues related to marijuana use and legalization.

The organization, founded by former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy, will be holding a community meeting in Waimea on March 20 at the Kanu O Ka Aina Charter School from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The meeting will address marijuana use and the potential impact on human 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 Kennedy, who is Project SAM’s chairman.

According to a statement released by the organization, 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 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.

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

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“Hawaii’s rates of marijuana use are significantly higher than in the rest of the country,” he said, adding “And fewer kids in Hawaii think smoking marijuana is harmful compared to kids in the United States as a whole.”

Former US Rep Patrick Kennedy.

Former US Rep Patrick Kennedy.

Kennedy claims to have witnessed firsthand “the debilitating effects of marijuana addiction.”

The organization quoted the former congressman as saying that children who smoke marijuana have “a 1 in 6 chance of becoming addicted and have significantly lower levels of IQ later in life.”

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SAM will also be highlighting the effect of potential marijuana legalization on Hawaii’s tourism industry. “Hawaii will become less family-friendly if marijuana is legalized, tourism will suffer and so will Hawaii residents’ quality of life,” said Kennedy.

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