Welcome from the PAN Director 



I hope you enjoyed last month’s newsletter. This month, as the summer is upon us, we are focused on encouraging safe, healthy, drug-free family activities, including safety on the roads during the summer months and holidays. We will also highlight Substance Free Athletics (SFA), an award-winning program that brings the latest scientific evidence about substances and sports to high school athletes and the coaches and parents who support them.  


PAN remained busy throughout the spring, attending conferences, hosting webinars, presenting at conferences and coalition meetings, and working with parents to address their concerns regarding marijuana legislation. We hope you had the opportunity to attend PAN’s May webinar on marijuana and the negative mental health effects resulting from marijuana use. If you didn’t have a chance to attend it, you can view it on the PAN website.  


We are concerned about the upcoming Farm Bill and the SAFE Banking Act and are working hard to educate our network about how these legislative actions threaten to harm you and your communities.  


This month’s newsletter will feature an article by the renowned Dr. Russel Kamer about the correlation between marijuana legalization at the state level and traffic fatality rates. Corinne LaMarca will review an article on the growing problem involving marijuana-impaired driving in New York, a problem many states share, and will tie this into the problems currently facing her home state of Ohio. We will continue to give shout-outs to our PANtastic advocates in action, the many people who continue to advocate for tighter laws in the states that have already legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, as well as to those who advocate against legalization.   


As PAN continues to strengthen connections and educate and train communities on the harms of marijuana, we will be preparing for our next webinar, which will be held at the end of June. This webinar will be a training on the dos and don’ts of lobbying your local leaders and lawmakers on the dangers of marijuana legalization and commercialization. Look out for the invitation to follow soon.   


As always, a lot has been happening across the country, so we will also provide state and national updates to keep you informed about what’s happening around the nation.  


Please check out our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter for more facts, updates, and information about the health-related harms of marijuana.  


We also continue to encourage readers to participate in, and/or share the Parent Action Network Interest Survey link with your friends, coworkers, and networks. Remember, your participation helps us help you! We are also currently meeting with those of you who expressed interest in sharing your stories so that we can learn more about you, and discuss how we can successfully work together to spread our shared message. We are listening to what you have to say. 

Thank you for supporting the Parent Action Network! 

Crissy Groenewegen 

Director of PAN 

Upcoming Events 

SAM Webinar: 2023 SAM Impact Report Tickets, Fri, Jun 16, 2023 at 1:00 PM Eventbrite: As the nation reels from an unprecedented overdose and addiction crisis, this new report shows that the legalization and commercialization of marijuana products are making the situation worse. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading organization dedicated to advancing a health-first approach to marijuana policy, recently unveiled its 2023 Impact Report, detailing the negative health, public safety, social justice, and fiscal consequences of the commercial marijuana industry. 

Johnny’s Ambassadors Preventing Youth Marijuana Use Conference: This event will be in person Monday and Tuesday, July 10th and 11th, in Lone Tree, Colorado. Individuals can also register to attend virtually. PAN’s Director, Crissy Groenewegen, and SAM EVP, Luke Niforatos, will be speaking at this conference. 


35TH ANNUAL D.A.R.E. INTERNATIONAL TRAINING CONFERENCE, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA | D.A.R.E. America (dare.org) JULY 24-28, 2023 D.A.R.E. will host its annual conference in July at the Tropicana Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada. PAN will be speaking at this event on Thursday, July 27th.  


National Federation of Families: NFF will host its annual conference November 9-11, in Chicago, Illinois. PAN will be presenting at this conference and will send an update by September with the specific day and time of the session. This conference is available both virtually and in person.  

Monthly Feature

Marijuana and Driving:

The Problem and What Parents Can Do About It 

By Russell Kamer, MD

Russell Kamer, MD is a practicing Primary Care Physician and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College. In addition, he is the Medical Director for a leading provider of medical safety services for the transportation industry. In that capacity, he has performed thousands of fitness-for-duty exams for commercial drivers.  

Certified in Cannabis Science and Medicine, Dr. Kamer authored the JAMA article Change in Traffic Fatality Rates in the First 4 States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana which found increased traffic fatality rates following the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

As I write this article, summer is coming. The days are getting longer and the air more humid. It is the season of graduations, parties, and time out of school. It means that our children will be driving and riding more. Thankfully, they have been well educated about the harms of drinking and driving. More than just being told, teenagers have been inculcated—impressed by frequent teaching and admonition—with the firm belief that it is wrong to drink and drive. On the other hand, they do not have the same fear of smoking marijuana and driving.

The difference in beliefs about drunk driving and stoned driving is astounding. In a survey of driving age high school students in Manitoba, over 20% agreed with the statement “There is nothing wrong with using cannabis and driving.” Meanwhile, only 5% thought it was OK to drink and drive. Not surprisingly, two-thirds of those who used marijuana more than once a month didn’t see a problem with driving after using cannabis.

I don’t blame the students. They have grown up during two decades where the dangers of marijuana have been minimized. Even adults, who should know better, ignore the problems of stoned driving. I have had patients drive to my office for their morning appointments smelling of marijuana. They don’t seem to think it is a problem. But if someone smelled of alcohol, we would all agree there is a problem, and we wouldn’t let them drive home.

Marijuana is an intoxicating drug that impairs driving. Anyone who thinks otherwise either never drove after smoking pot or is misinformed. It shouldn’t be controversial. In 1994, even the California coordinator for the marijuana advocacy group NORML admitted, “marijuana has been shown to degrade short-term memory, concentration, judgment, and coordination at complex tasks including driving. There have been numerous reports of pot-related accidents--some of them fatal, belying the attractive myth that no one has ever died from marijuana.” Originally, I found that quote on the NORML website, but don’t look for it now. It’s been scrubbed, and in its place is an intentionally confusing assessment that states marijuana’s “impact in automobile crashes is inconclusive.” In their quest for full legalization, NORML has abandoned the honest—but less compelling—strategy of admitting marijuana’s harms yet calling for legalization on the grounds of personal freedom.

There is no doubt that marijuana alters perception, impairs judgement, slows reaction time, interferes with attention, and affects coordination. The only question is: how long does the impairment last? The answer is: longer than you think. Studies have repeatedly shown that impairment persists long after a person no longer feels high. Classic experiments on pilots in flight simulators showed they had off-center landings 24 hours after a single joint—one missed the runway altogether. A more recent study showed a reduction in the ability to pay attention to two tasks at once—important when driving—for as long as 8 hours after inhaling a standard amount of marijuana. Interestingly, THC—the intoxicating chemical--could not be detected in blood after 4 hours. In other words, people can be impaired from marijuana even when THC is gone from the blood. This is one problem in detecting marijuana-impaired driving. Especially if there is a delay in testing, THC may not be found in blood even though the driver was under the influence.

What can we do? First, all rules that apply to alcohol should apply to marijuana. Tell your children, “Don’t drink and drive, and don’t use marijuana and drive.” Not, "wait a few hours." Not, "wait until it wears off." If you have used marijuana, don’t drive. And don’t get in a car with someone who did. Have a designated driver or call someone.

Next, insist that all school programs about alcohol and driving give equal time to marijuana and driving. Every time the word alcohol is used, the word marijuana should be used also. The message needs to be unambiguous. Current course materials that show alcohol-related driving consequences should be updated with portrayals of stoned drivers and the damage they have done.

In the span of a generation, driving after drinking went from normal to socially unacceptable. We can do the same with driving after smoking marijuana.

Doing It Right!

We want to congratulate the policy makers, leaders, and advocates who fight against all odds to oppose legalization in their communities, and states, and/or advocate for changes to existing policies that protect our youth and communities. 

A huge thank you to SAM Co-Founder and former Congressman, Patrick Kennedy and his wife, Amy, who took the time to speak on SAMHSA’s podcast series; What Parents are Saying-Prevention, Wisdom, Authenticity and Empowerment. They spoke specifically about parenting in recovery, as well as the work they do nationally to expand the dialogue around mental health and addiction.  

HB 1305, which would have legalized medical marijuana in Texas, did not pass the Texas Senate. Texans have been spared the predatory and dangerous marijuana industry for another two years. State Senate leaders looked at the data, science, and public response from people across the state, and killed legislation that would have opened the flood gates to Big Marijuana and the latest addiction-for-profit industry. Medical associations and the federal government have long made clear that marijuana has "a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in the United States". Thankfully, Texas has followed this fact-based approach to public health policy.  

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently stated that delta-8 THC acetate ester (delta-8 THCO) and delta-9 acetate ester (delta-9 THCO) are not hemp, but Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Click here to read the article. 

National Alerts: SAFE Banking and Farm Bill Review

The SAFE Banking Act 

The profit-driven marijuana industry is lobbying for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would grant the industry access to the federal banking system and institutional investors. The bill was re-introduced to the Senate in April, and a hearing took place on May 11. A markup is expected in the next few weeks, so make sure you're signed up to receive SAM Action Alerts!

This bill would permit banks to be out of compliance with federal law, while opening the doors to Wall Street investment into the marijuana industry, accelerating the creation of the next Big Tobacco. This bill is all about maximizing profits while ignoring the harms to public health and safety. Our CEO, Dr. Kevin Sabet, eloquently spoke against the bill at the hearing and was touted by opposing media outlet, Marijuana Moment as the “anti-marijuana legislation warrior”!

Click Here to Tell Congress to Oppose SAFE Banking

2023 Farm Bill

This bill is up for its 5-year review this year. You may remember, the 2018 farm bill legalized industrial hemp, which opened the door for CBD products and more concerning, Delta-8 and other psychoactive hemp-derived products. Congress can close the Delta-8 loophole this year by clarifying the hemp legalization provisions to ban the manufacturing or sale of intoxicating or psychoactive hemp-derived compounds. 

Click Here to Urge Your Representatives and Senators to Close the 2018 Farm Bill Loophole

State Alerts And Updates

Connecticut: Connecticut just passed HB 6699, requiring updated health warning labels for marijuana, especially high-potency THC-laced products. SAM CEO Dr. Kevin Sabet stated, “This legislation combats the industry’s false narratives by making it clear that marijuana and THC products are dangerous and may cause ‘long term physical and mental health problems and have delayed side effects.’ While these warning labels alone won’t stem the tide of addiction, Connecticut has wisely chosen to be honest with the public about the medical science and data that demonstrate the real consequences of marijuana and THC use.” 

Minnesota: Governor Tim Walz recently signed legislation to legalize and commercialize marijuana in Minnesota. We will continue to advocate for better, safer, more equitable policies in Minnesota. 


New York: On Thursday, June 15, New York Governor, Kathy Hochul will host the first ever Mental Health Summit in New York City. While this invitation has been posted to her website inviting all New Yorkers, we thought we would make you aware of this event and provide the direct link to register. Space is limited and R.S.V.P. is due by June 12, 2023. The event will take place at The Javitz Center at 10:00 a.m. All information will follow when you receive your confirmation after registering. RSVP to  Governor Kathy Hochul's Youth Mental Health Summit. If you are planning to attend, please let us know!


Ohio: We saw this coming! We want to alert Ohio residents to the impending legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. Initiative to legalize recreational marijuana could be on November's ballot - Ohio Capital Journal. House Bill 168 would enact Chapter 3780 ('Chapter') of the Ohio Revised Code regarding adult use cannabis control to authorize and regulate the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home grow, and use of adult use cannabis by adults at least twenty-one years of age ('adult use consumers'). Adult use cannabis, cannabis and marijuana are all defined under the Act to mean marijuana as defined in section 3719.01 of the Ohio Revised Code. Keep an eye on your email for actions and alerts. 

PANtastic Shout-Out! 

  • Ed Wood: Long-time advocate and founder of DUID Victim Voices, works with others to change driving manuals in their states. Ed was successful in changing the manuals in Colorado and Arizona to include marijuana impairment. If you want to lead the effort to ensure your state is educating teens properly about drugged driving facts, send Ed a link to your state’s driver training manual at [email protected]. If changes are needed, he will work with you to make driver education in your state part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. 


  • Our very own director, Crissy Groenewegen appeared on Fox -5 National News, where she spoke with Doug Kennedy about the 2,000+ illegal pot shops occupying NYC, and NY officials’ lack of response to this growing problem. Also featured was, Leslie Woodruff, New York City mom, and Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Coalition member, who spoke of how this is affecting her once-family neighborhood and her concerns for her 7-year-old daughter’s safety and well-being 

Additionally, we want to give a huge shout-out to Darryl Rodgers, Corinne LaMarca, Dave Evans and all the other advocates who showed up to voice their concern for the North Carolina Senate Bill 3 (SB3) regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. This bill did not include a potency cap, failed to limit daily purchases, did not outline regulations, and included an unacceptable warning label, among other issues. Be sure to watch the embedded video.

Director of Jennifer's Messengers and PAN advocate Corinne LaMarca with Darryl Rodgers, PAN advocate and parent coach for families battling addiction, testifying in opposition to North Carolina SB 3

Noteworthy Resources


  • We had a great turnout for our webinar, The Low-Down on High-Potency THC and the Associated Mental Health Risks; you can view it here. Thank you again to our speakers, Dr. Libby Stuyt, Donna Thomas, and Laura Stack! 


  • Substance-Free Athletics Through a presentation-based format, drug education and policy clarifications are discussed with coaches, athletes, and parents. From there, conversations about drugs and alcohol can become more productive and choosing not to use has a rational and potentially shared basis. Their goal is to encourage more youth athletes to Protect Their Game by choosing not to use with support from coaches and parents. Learn more by clicking the link above.  

  • One Choice 5 Prevention Basics for Parents. Recognizing substance use disorder as a pediatric-onset disease, driven by the unique vulnerability of the developing adolescent brain to alcohol and drug use, the Institute for Behavior and Health has identified five key things parents and caregivers need to know about youth substance use prevention. The One Choice 5 is part of IBH’s work to normalize substance NON-use for youth, reframing the goal of youth substance use prevention as One Choice: no use of any alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, or other drugs for reasons of health.

Monthly Commentary

Skewed Statistics and Laws With No Bite 

By Corinne LaMarca

Arm yourself with information to protect your family: Knowledge is power and early intervention is essential 

We have been educating for years at the local, state and national level about what can happen when someone decides to drive impaired on marijuana. Scientific information is consistently being released on the effects of today’s marijuana and the effect it is having on our youth. I recently testified at a hearing in North Carolina in a Senate Committee on a proposed bill to legalize medical marijuana. Marijuana users talk about their freedom to use, but what about the freedom of countless others that are victims of this dangerous drug, either by using it themselves or suffering the consequences of other’s use? Some of the consequences can include car crashes, suicide, psychotic breaks, CHS, CUD and more. Some of our families out here are suffering in so many ways from the spread of this powerful and hallucinogenic drug. Anecdotal evidence from a few users should not be the reason we legalize marijuana. My daughter and many other innocent victims are killed daily by drivers who are impaired on marijuana. Don’t tell me no one ever died from marijuana or that you drive better impaired. 


With all the data from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report from Colorado and other legalized states, plus the science that has already been published, it is a shame that states continue to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. Right now, in NYC, they are seeing the results of legalization. Using marijuana while driving in NYC has become ubiquitous. Customers are using right in the pot shops and driving off impaired. On streets all over town, cars can be seen with smoke coming out of the windows and the strong smell of pot lingering in the air. 


Just recently, a news reporter for Fox News featured a story on illegal pot shops in New York City. The reporter interviewed people on the street in NYC to show the number of pot shops on every block. He spoke with Crissy Groenewegen, Director of Parent Action Network, and with a very concerned mom who recently made NYC her home. This mom had a small child and is very concerned about this activity and is unsure of how to explain it to her daughter. Some of these pot shops are legal but many are not, and they emit weed smells that permeate the sidewalks as people walk by. One courier who makes his living delivering documents from building to building says his job has gotten much more dangerous with the influx of marijuana impaired drivers, and he has almost had many serious crashes because drivers don’t see him. 


The laws in New York say that it is illegal to drive impaired, but the state has made it difficult for officers to enforce impairment regulations because there is no easy way to detect marijuana in the body. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data confirms that up to half of all fatalities on the road now involve marijuana. Impairment from marijuana makes driving dangerous because it causes delayed reaction, altered time perception, distorted distance perception, motor coordination issues, lack of focus as well as narrowing of the visual scope. This seems to indicate a need for increased and accurate THC testing in driving-related incidents. 


My home state of Ohio has per se laws which set limits on how much THC can be found in blood or urine before a driver is charged with an impaired driving offense. While this is good, they are now working to relax these as medical marijuana users feel it is “not fair”. These laws were created to mitigate the problem of the increase in impaired drivers that come with medical and recreational legalization. Shouldn’t laws be “fair” for those of us who choose not to drive impaired as well? 


Anyone that travels on our roads could encounter an impaired driver at any time, so what can parents do? We must voice our concerns surrounding impaired driving by letting our state elected officials know that this is unacceptable. We will continue to advocate for laws to penalize driving while high and get these dangerous drivers off the road. We’re working to protect our youth and families. Stand with us. 


For more information on marijuana and impaired driving, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site. 

PAN Survey

As Parent Action Network continues to build its network, we want to hear from YOU! We want to hear your stories, learn more about what you already know, and learn what you want to know about marijuana legalization and the effects it is having on you, your families, your neighborhoods, and our society.  


Please take a few minutes to complete the Parent Action Network Interest Survey so that you can help better the work of the Parent Action Network! 

About PAN

The Parent Action Network (PAN) is an initiative of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, founded by Congressman Patrick Kennedy in 2013. PAN’s goal is to share the voices of experience regarding marijuana risks and mobilize parents and other family members to share and warn about marijuana issues in our communities. PAN regularly engages with families, lawmakers, government decision makers, and the media to ensure that your family’s voice is heard. We are staffed by families with lived experiences of marijuana use detrimentally affecting their own family, and other concerned loved ones who want to make a difference.

Donate to PAN