Group against decriminalizing marijuana talks with lawmakers

Former congressman Patrick Kennedy is co-chair of Project SAM

Published  9:14 PM HST Mar 18, 2013
HONOLULU -

Opponents of decriminalizing marijuana has a new partner -- a powerful national figure who has made it a point to fight legislation through education.

"Adding marijuana to alcohol and tobacco is like adding gasoline to the fire," said former congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Kennedy is the co-chair of Project SAM -- Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

The national group works with local health, government and law enforcement leaders to talk about the problems with legalizing marijuana.

Those fighting the battle here say the help is welcomed.

"We do tell them about our problems enforcing the law, but we do need another voice there with us," said Keith Kamita with the Public Safety Department.

With just one-and-a-half months left in this legislative session, one marijuana bill is still alive.

"The bill that came out from the Judiciary Committee is very disturbing," said Rep. Sharon Har.   "The only penalty that it offers to an adult who is caught selling to a minor is it basically would require the adult to pay for any damage that that child wreaks havoc on in the course of being high,"

"If you had marijuana in your car, there would be no penalty so you could transport it.  If you're under 18 and have a small amount of marijuana there would actuallly be no ramification and no prevention.  Nothing happening," said Project SAM Co-Chair Kevin Sabet.

The group plans to talk with lawmakers and the community.  Their first stop on Monday was a meeting the Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

'Decriminalization, medical marijuana, legalization is not good for the future of Hawaii," said Kennedy.  "We hope that before the governor signs any bill that they truly take into account what the implications of this is on the children, on the tourism and state and its future."

Project SAM Community Meetings

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