High Potency Marijuana, Psychosis, and Suicide: Johnny Stack’s Story

Popular among our teens and young adults today is the practice of dabbing, which in marijuana culture, refers to the dangerous process of consuming high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. Dr. Christian Thurstone, a child and addiction psychiatrist, notes in this article that
“adolescent marijuana use predicts a two- to four-fold increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis. Concentrated cannabis, such as that found in dabs, also results in a higher risk of physical dependence and addiction.

With permission, below is a story of a young man whose dabbing led to cannabis-induced psychosis. The family has established a non-profit organization called Johnny’s Ambassadors to educate parents and teens about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana on the developing adolescent mind.


October 12, 2020

DENVER—It’s a grief that’s unimaginable. Deep, raw, and ever present. Laura and John Stack are still reeling over the

DENVER—It’s a grief that’s unimaginable. Deep, raw, and ever present. Laura and John Stack are still reeling over the loss of their son to suicide less than a year ago.

Johnny was 19 and addicted to high-potency marijuana.

“I just can’t believe that he had to grow up in Colorado—the first one to legalize it, and my son has to be the victim,” Laura told The Epoch Times on Oct. 1.

Johnny started smoking marijuana in 2014 after the state legalized its commercial use. He was 14, and “everyone was doing it,” Laura said.

But the real problems started in 2016 when Johnny started taking “dabs” that can contain more than 80 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant.

“They’re distilling the THC and it doesn’t even have any plant material left, it’s just a chemical,” Laura said.

Dabbing is a fairly new and popular way to take concentrated THC. The THC is stripped out of the cannabis plant most commonly using butane (making butane hash oil) or propane. A further process then strips away the butane, leaving a dabbable concentrate, which is vaporized—via a glass rig or vaping device—into smoke that is inhaled. It can be odorless.

Other forms of butane hash oil include waxes, shatters, and budders—which are similar, but have different textures.

In 1995, the average potency (THC level) of marijuana was around 4 percent. Now, even regular marijuana buds sold at a dispensary can have 25 percent potency.

The state that went all-in on marijuana is facing the ugly side of a drug that is now so potent, it’s triggering cannabis-induced psychosis, especially in teens.

After he started dabbing at around age 16, Johnny went from being a happy teenager with a 4.2 GPA to failing classes and becoming withdrawn.

He was a “very sweet, sensitive” young man. “He was brilliant,” said Laura. But, eventually, Johnny dropped out of all the activities he was involved in. “We stopped hearing about the same friends. He became more defiant.”

His father put the change in behavior down to teenage rebellion. “I felt like we could work through it. And that eventually, he would be okay.”

Neither parent connected it to marijuana. They knew nothing about dabbing, high potency marijuana, or cannabis-induced psychosis.

Please take the time to click here to read Johnny’s story. It will direct you to the Johnny’s Ambassadors website so you can learn more about Johnny, his parents, and the strides they are making to help teens and parents become educated about the dangers of marijuana use and dabbing.

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