Project SAM organizers hope that they can move conversations about marijuana beyond "incarceration versus legalization” discussions and "instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug."
And the conversations are happening now in Massachusetts.
Last week, Wayland resident Heidi Heilman and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy jointly announced the launch of the Massachusetts chapter of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) during a ceremony at the Boston State House.
According to a press release, Project SAM is already active in a few states and came to Massachusetts as a project of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance (MAPA).
"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 key goals, according to the press release:
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-like 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 said in the press release that Massachusetts has some of the highest rates of teen marijuana use in the country.
“And fewer kids in Massachusetts think smoking marijuana is harmful compared to the past," Kennedy said. "I have seen first-hand the debilitating effects of marijuana addiction. It’s more than just the addict. Families suffer and taxpayers cover the cost of the fallout."
Heliman added that Project SAM supports legislation that provides "compassionate and safe access [to marijuana] for profoundly ill people" as Massachusetts voters indicated they wanted last November.