Lawmakers heard from Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Project SAM says it offers a non-bias way to approach marijuana policy, but a local pot user says the presentation was anything but balanced.
"I don't consider it a drug myself. When they call it a drug, I giggle," said Dr. Kevin Sabet of Project SAM. "We want to talk about what we call a health-first policy emphasizing prevention."
For it or against it, passionate debate is guaranteed to fire up when you are talking marijuana.
On Tuesday Project SAM, a bipartisan group, aimed at the smart use of cannabis and is focusing on smart and safe ways to go about legalizing pot here in Hawaii.
"We really want to learn from examples of our two legal drugs as examples of what we do not want to copy: alcohol and tobacco," said Sabet.
Presenters warned the legal sale of marijuana in Hawaii could turn out be an industry of addiction. They say seven percent of Americans smoke pot regularly. 80 percent of those users are between the ages of 12 and 25 years old.
Now stories show weed-laced cookies, candies and sodas can wind up in the hands of children.
"We now have data from Colorado showing recent hospital admissions of children as young as five years old because they obviously can't tell the difference of a cookie that has THC and one that doesn't," said Sabet.
It is something that Hawaii lawmakers do not want to see happen here.
"If we think as lawmakers legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana is not going to be added to that list we are being naïve," said Representative Sharon Har of District 42.
But participants say the presenters are just blowing smoke.
"A lot of it seems like propaganda," said Sabet.
As for legalizing it here in Hawaii, users do agree it will be full of challenges.
"It's a hard decision, but people just got to be responsible for themselves and how they medicate and how they ease their pains," said Sabet.
Doctors who study the effects of THC also made presentations Tuesday and say marijuana buds have 14 percent THC compared to two percent 20 years ago.