CONTACT Get to know Johnny's Ambassadors - Dr. Christian Thurstone

Today, we caught the vision for a new effort to raise awareness about the potential health harms of marijuana use and the importance of seeking mental healthcare for addiction and a wide range of mental health problems, including depression, suicidal ideation and THC-induced psychosis.

Meet Johnny’s Ambassadors — a new nonprofit organization based in Colorado and borne of tragedy. It is spearheaded by Laura and John Stack, whose 19-year-old son, Johnny, committed suicide in November 2019 while suffering from THC-induced psychosis. Until their son’s illness, the Stacks say they knew very little about ultra-high-potency and odorless THC concentrate and the means of consuming it, including vaping and dabbing. Through Johnny’s Ambassadors, they hope to present an array of community-building events that raise financial support for ongoing adolescent drug-use-prevention education — such as this webinar presentation by Dr. Christian Thurstone and Laura Stack. The group’s vision: “To dramatically decrease the incidence of adolescent substance abuse, mental illness, and suicide, to allow our youth to live productive, happy lives.”

What is dabbing?

Dabs are marijuana extracts (shatter, wax, budder are some examples) made by pouring a solvent such as butane, ethanol, propane, or carbon dioxide over marijuana, which allows THC to leave the plant material and dissolve into the solvent. This concentrated THC solution is then filtered and placed in a tray. The result of the extraction is sticky oil that typically appears bronze in color. It’s not a plant and is highly potent, containing up to 99% THC. Dabs are typically heated on a hot surface and the vapors are inhaled through a dab rig or dab pen.

Johnny’s Ambassadors first big event, held Sept. 20 during the Suicide Prevention Month at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, encouraged in-person attendees and those participating virtually across the nation to enjoy a purposeful walk (Valor’s track is gorgeous!); support event sponsors (Here’s a shout-out to Freeway Ford in Denver!); grab some great food from local vendors (Check out Slim Chickens and the Sno Ball Shack); and meet with local mental health treatment providers to learn about ways to avoid perils of drug use and also access local resources for help.

Dr. T is honored to serve as a scientific advisor for Johnny’s Ambassadors. He helped open the event with these remarks — during which he shared that a recent review of of data shows that since 2008, more than 28,000 cases of psychosis reported at Denver Health hospital are believed to have been worsened by THC use.

About Christine Tatum

Christine Tatum is a veteran journalist whose communications and market intel firm, Media Salad, Inc., helps companies and nonprofit organizations win business and stay ahead of their competitors. Her professional stops include the Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, the (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald and the (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record. Her work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and New York Times.

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