From SAM Massachusetts –
PATRICK KENNEDY’S ‘PROJECT SAM’ LAUNCHES IN MASSACHUSETTS TO EDUCATE AND RAISE AWARENESS ON MARIJUANA ISSUES
BOSTON– Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) has come to Massachusetts as part of its new national dialogue on policy issues related to marijuana use and legalization. The organization is launching a statewide affiliate, SAM Massachusetts, a project of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance (MAPA), to facilitate a discussion on marijuana use, the potential impact it has on health, and policy solutions that will protect the welfare of all people, families and children.
“Misconceptions about marijuana are becoming more and more prevalent, especially in Massachusetts, a state with some of the highest levels of youth marijuana use in the nation” said former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Project SAM chairman. “It’s time to clear the smoke and get the facts out about this drug.”
“We are thrilled to launch Project SAM,” said Heidi Heilman, coordinator of SAM Massachusetts and president of MAPA.“This is not about demonizing or legalizing marijuana, but rather educating the public about the most misunderstood drug in the country and the industry promoting it.”
Project SAM, has four main goals:
• To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana.
• 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 have an adult conversation about reducing the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
Kennedy and Heilman said an increase in marijuana use in the Commonwealthwould have major consequences for young people.
In Massachusetts, with the passage of decriminalization in 2008 and medical marijuana in 2012, children think marijuana use is no big deal. And legalization proponents who have their eye on 2016 are capitalizing on that through a well-funded national media and lobbying campaign. Marijuana is the number one drug of abuse among ourkids and the top reason Massachusetts teens are in treatment.
“Massachusetts’ rates of youth marijuana use are significantly higher than in the rest of the country,” Kennedy said. “And fewer kids in Massachusetts think smoking marijuana is harmful compared to the past. I have seen first hand the debilitating effects of marijuana addiction. It’s more than just the addict, it’s the families who suffer too.”
Kennedy said teens who smoke marijuana have a 1 in 6 chance of becoming addicted and have significantly lower levels of IQ later in life.
“We are here to educate,” said Heilman.“Our biggest concern is that the marijuana industry will pursue our children as their next lifelong customer base. We saw this happened with Big Tobacco. We don’t want to create a new American Public Health Crisis, and then spend another half century working furiously to repair the damage to American public and mental health. We must pay much closer attention to what the marijuana industry and pro-pot lobby is orchestrating if we want to protect our next generation.”
“We support new legislation that holds the marijuana industry accountable and delivers what Massachusetts’ citizens understood they were voting on last November – compassionate and safe access for profoundly ill people.” Heilman remarked.
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 Vermont, Hawaii and Colorado. (www.learnaboutsam.org)