2018 SAM Summit Speakers

Aubree Adams
Activist/Advocate
MomsStrong.org
Aubree Adams is a Colorado mom. Her son was exposed to marijuana and marijuana edibles in the 8th grade, soon after Colorado legalized and commercialized marijuana in 2014. He had access to these products at school and at his friends' homes. Unfortunately, he started to self-harm, and then experienced a psychotic break during his freshman year in high school, during which he tried to kill himself. After two hospitalizations, her son admitted to her that he was "dabbing" -- smoking a high THC resin heated with a butane torch. Dabs are made and sold legally by the commercialized marijuana industry. He said, "I was dabbing and it made me feel crazy so I was trying to quit, it's like crack weed." Her son continued a cycle of addiction and mental illness for the next couple of years, and even progressed to other drugs like meth and heroin. He is now in recovery, and admits marijuana almost killed him and was his gateway to other drugs. Aubree feels her son survived his suicide attempt for a reason. She spends a lot of time educating and raising awareness of the harms of marijuana. She speaks out against legalizing marijuana. She feels health and safety is more important than someone's freedom to be impaired. She also objects to an industry that makes money off the addiction and destruction of others. She is saddened that the harmful effects of marijuana are now being minimized. She wants people to know that marijuana alone can be deadly and legalizing marijuana only enhances the war on drugs and the addiction rate. Colorado's suicide rate is nearly 50% higher than that of the nation as a whole and is increasing at double the national rate of increase. Marijuana use increases the risk for suicide by seven fold.
Panel: From Victims to Advocates: Leading the Way as Change Agents


Ben Cort
Author, Consultant

Ben Cort, a person in recovery, left a position as a human resource director for an S&P 500 firm to help start the Colorado nonprofit Phoenix Multisport. He then joined the drug policy conversation at the national level in 2012 to craft an awareness campaign and was appointed to the board of directors of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and NALGAP (the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Treatment Providers and their Allies). A frequent speaker, Cort’s first book, “Weed, Inc.: The Truth About the Pot Lobby, THC, and the Commercial Marijuana Industry,” was released in September 2017. He moved on from his position with the University of Colorado Hospital in 2017 to focus on marijuana education and addiction consulting services.
Panel: Colorado's Commercialization Effects


Mervyn L. Jones II
Director, State and Local Government Affairs
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Prior to SAM, Mervyn Jones was a Partner at Pine Street Strategies, where he helped clients successfully navigate the legislative and regulatory landscape across the federal and state government. He strives to build strategic relationships with stakeholders and clients, so they may secure critical investments and help educate decision makers. Jones recently served as Manager of Government Affairs and Political Advocacy at the National Restaurant Association, where he lobbied the House and Senate on issues of labor, tech, agriculture, healthcare, finance, sustainability and tax. Prior to leaving the Hill, he served as Special Assistant to Congressmen Tim Ryan and Vice Chair Congressman Joseph Crowley. He was responsible for monitoring federal policy, interacting with state and local government stakeholders and briefing lawmakers and their staff on Congressional and Administration initiatives and priorities. He also served as the liaison to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Alaskan Pacific Asian Caucus and has strong connections to the Congressional Black Caucus.
States to Watch in 2018


Roneet Lev
MD, FACEP, Chief, Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego
Scripps Mercy San Diego
Dr. Roneet Lev is the Chief of the emergency department at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. She is current president of IEPC, Independent Emergency Physicians Consortium, which represents over 30 emergency departments in California. She served as President of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. In October 2012, she established the San Diego and Imperial County Prescription Drug Abuse Medical Task Force with the goal of reducing deaths and mortality from prescription drugs. She became involved in medical issues from marijuana by her involvement in the opioid epidemic when patients came to the emergency department with cannabis-related problems that were treated with opioids. She published a consensus treatment guideline for cannabis hyperemesis syndrome and publicized the word "scromiting" that went viral. She uses data to drive change for improved prescribing habits. She is a passionate advocate for smart approaches to marijuana.
Marijuana and the Emergency Room


Luke Niforatos
Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Luke Niforatos is the Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor at SAM. Prior to SAM, he spent his career working in nonprofit community healthcare (Centura Health, Metro Community Provider Network), managing teams driving over $30 million in revenue. He also built two digital health companies (DocBuddy, Niforatos Solutions). Having lived in Colorado during legalization, he has seen first-hand the disastrous effects of marijuana. This experience inspired him to work for a smart marijuana policy free of commercialization and normalization.
Panel: Colorado's Commercialization Effects


Justin Luke Riley
EMBA, Founder
Marijuana Accountability Coalition
Justin Luke Riley serves as CEO of Young People in Recovery (YPR) and also leads the Marijuana Accountability Coalition, a SAM affiliate in Colorado. YPR envisions a world where everyone can access the necessary tools to recover from substance use disorder and associated high-risk behaviors. Riley is 29 years-old and has been in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder since 2007. He graduated cum laude from the Honors & Leadership Program at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2013 and recently completed his Executive MBA at the University of Colorado. He is a former organizational development consultant and a youth and community engagement pastor in Denver; former secretary of the board of Faces & Voices of Recovery in Washington, DC; and past president of the board of Advocates for Recovery in Denver. He is also a White House Champion of Change award recipient. Most recently, Riley was featured as one of the four Social Entrepreneurs Advancing The Nationwide Recovery Movement in Forbes.
Panel: Colorado's Commercialization Effects


Darryl Rodgers
Author
A Life Half Lived
At the age of 19, Darryl Rodgers began a career as a corporate pilot. He served as a medic in the Army National Guard and later became a copilot/gunner on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. He has owned several small businesses and had the most fun running an outdoor summer day camp for boys. Rodgers also worked with at-risk boys through a nonprofit program that he started. Darryl has been married to his wife, Kim, for 26 years. They are the proud parents of two boys, Justin and Chase. Unfortunately, their oldest son, Chase, was killed in a tragic car wreck in 2014. Rodgers wrote about his son, Chase, in his first book, "A Life Half Lived."
Panel: From Victims to Advocates: Leading the Way as Change Agents


Kevin Sabet
PhD, President and CEO
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Kevin A. Sabet, PhD, is an author, consultant, former advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations and assistant professor, and he serves as the President and CEO of SAM, which he founded with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy in 2013. He has studied, researched, written about and implemented drug policy for almost 20 years. He has worked in the Clinton (2000) and Bush (2002-2003) administrations, and in 2011 he stepped down after serving more than two years as the senior advisor to President Obama's drug control director, having been the only drug policy staffer to have ever served as a political appointee in a Democrat and Republican administration. He since has appeared at the Aspen Ideas and New Yorker festivals, on the Organization of American States blue ribbon commission advising hemispheric drug policy, and in hundreds of forums and discussions promoting the ideas outlined in his first book, "Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana," published by Beaufort. He has been featured on the front page of the New York Times and in virtually every major media publication and news channel on the subject of drug policy.
SAM President's Opening Keynote
Closing Remarks


Julie Schauer
Founder
Parents Opposed to Pot
Julie Schauer had been teaching college art appreciation and art history classes for a long time before running into marijuana lobbyists recruiting students. Otherwise, the issue of legislation would not have been on her radar. In 2014, realizing how pervasive the false messages sent to youth, she started the group Parents Opposed to Pot, with the intent of using social media to send messages to parents who could counter the force of marijuana advocacy.
Parental/Guardian Marijuana Use as a Threat to Children


Sally Schindel
Activist/Advocate
MomsStrong.org
Retired since 2008, living in Prescott, Arizona since 2002, Sally Schindel was a self-employed financial advisor, with CFP certification. Her bachelor's degree in accounting is from Western Illinois University in 1972. Schindel's passion now is volunteering with organizations that are making a difference in the lives of young people and their education. She is a long term member of P.E.O., supporting women's education, and a volunteer with MATFORCE in Prescott, working toward a brighter future by building a healthier community, striving to eliminate substance abuse and its effects. Schindel serves as the headquarters of MomsStrong.org in Arizona, a group of Moms unmasking the marijuana charade. She also volunteers with CAALM.info, a national organization dedicated to providing the latest information on the harms of marijuana to individuals and our country and the Marijuana Victims Alliance, a project of CAALM. Schindel is the proud mother of two. She calls her daughter, "the light of my life." Her son, Andy, died in 2014. Andy's death is linked to marijuana addiction. He left a powerful message that Sally wants all to know. Andy said, "Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain." Sally says: "I am now working with Andy, in his memory, urging young people to not risk using marijuana or other drugs. Marijuana is not harmless. I hope Andy's message will help everyone 'Think Again' before assuming the drug marijuana is harmless."
Panel: From Victims to Advocates: Leading the Way as Change Agents


Dana Stevens
Coordinator
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Dana Stevens is responsible for SAM's High Means DUI initiative. She has been a public health and safety advocate most of her adult life! She cut her policy chops serving as a volunteer for the 9th District PTA (San Diego & Imperial Counties) as Vice President of Community Concerns and then Vice President of Public Health. She also served on the state PTA Legislative Committee, where she learned to work state legislation. Volunteer policy work led to professional campaign initiatives, including the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence (including the assault weapons ban, an initiative to eliminate Saturday Night Specials and to prohibit look-a-like toy guns). In 1994, Stevens ran the San Diego County campaign organization in opposition to big tobacco's Prop 188 (to roll back California's progressive tobacco-free workplace laws). In spite of being outspent (20/1) the NO on 188 campaign trounced big tobacco with 74% of the vote. Her work to reduce binge and underage drinking in Mexico (where the drinking age is 18) was featured on CBS News programs 60 Minutes and 48-Hours, as well as the Journal of the American Medical Association. As chair of the Committee on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs for Palomar Health, California's largest public hospital district, she led the county's fist initiative to address Rx drug abuse prevention known as Prescription for Disaster. The work was recognized with both the Gold and Silver Health Communicators Awards for Advocacy. Stevens was awarded their CommUNITY Health Hero Award for leadership in substance abuse prevention. She is the Executive Director of Community Action, Service & Advocacy (CASA), where she has successfully developed two Drug-Free Communities support programs and continues to provide technical assistance to these rural and suburban coalitions. In addition, under CASA's STOP Act grant (the Surgeon General's initiative to prevent underage & binge drinking) she led a local effort to pass San Diego County's first (and only) Deemed Approved ordinance -- a land-use regulation to reign in problematic alcohol outlets and utilize a Conditional Use Permit process for all new alcohol licensees. CASA was awarded San Diego County's Public Health Champion for 2016.
Panel: From Victims to Advocates: Leading the Way as Change Agents



Robert Weiner
President
Robert Weiner, Associates News; Solutions for Change Foundation
With 30 years of top level government and political experience, Robert Weiner created and heads a Washington, D.C. based company. Mr. Weiner is a White House Correspondent, radio-TV commentator, and oped columnist (750 op-eds in major papers). His illustrious career includes being a former spokesman to Clinton and Bush White Houses (Off. of National Drug Control Policy), 4-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, US House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff Congressmen John Conyers, Charles Rangel (House Select Narcotics Committee), Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. He generates wide news coverage and develops electronic and print media for issue, political and private sector clients. Weiner consults with media on news-making issues, including aging/social security, drug policy, government operations, sports policy, national security, environment, election reform and other subjects in which he and his associates have expertise. Appearances and coverage include CNN "Crossfire," ABC "Politically Incorrect," "Today," "Good Morning America," Penn and Teller, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, TV Guide, AP, and network radio (including regular Radio America panelist). Recent op-eds appeared in Washington Post, New York Times, Miami Herald, Atlanta Constitution, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, New York Post, New York Daily News, Washington Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Adweek, Orlando Sentinel, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel. Weiner has assembled an experienced team of experts in media execution and issue development and analysis. His company recreated following seven-year success in 1980-87; channeled skills into senior level appointed government service before and after.
PR and Messaging in a Changing Landscape