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Billings superintendent invites Colorado activist to talk about teens and marijuana

Johnny's Ambassadors.jpg
Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 10:25:50-05

Billings Public Schools Superintendent Greg Upham says his concern for drugs in schools led him to invite a woman from an organization in Denver to talk about the effects of marijuana on children.

Laura Stack, the founder of Johnny's Ambassadors, gave the first of two presentations on Nov. 28.

"The amount of THC that was in the product was nothing short of just breathtaking," said Upham as he opened the session.

Johnny's Ambassadors is a Colorado-based nonprofit advocacy group aimed at raising awareness of potential dangers of underage marijuana use. The group is named after Stack's son, Johnny Stack, who died by suicide.

Upham said thousands watched the presentation in which Stack said marijuana today has higher levels of THC.

"We talked about high-potency marijuana and why it's particularly harmful to youth brain development," Stack said. "And also the creation of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression and psychosis and sadly in my son's case, suicidality."

She says Johnny became addicted to marijuana and products that include up to 90% THC levels when he was 14.

"He was given it at a party," said Stack. "Five years later, he passed away. So in five years, it took him down the road from anything's possible to his death."

While marijuana and marijuana products are illegal for anyone under 21, according to the CDC,high doses of THC among teens can frequently cause anxiety and paranoia and have been linked to depression.

Dr. Rich Friedel, a brain health professional, says he's seen this in his work.

"I see the same brain with somebody that has smoked marijuana, as I see with a clinically depressed brain," Friedel said.

Stack has spoken around the country even telling her son's story on the television show "Dr. Phil."

"It wasn't until after his death when I started writing and researching and forming our nonprofit that I really understood the potency and how what he had used had ruined his mind and he knew it had," Stack said on the show.

Recordings are available on the district's website.

Stack will return on Monday, Dec. 12 starting for part two and a q&a.

"Laura Stack's 'Johnny's Ambassadors' presentation should be seen by every parent in the world," Upham said.