Johnny Stack was born on February 7, 2000 and died by suicide on November 20, 2019 at the age of 19. He was an incredibly intelligent, funny, charming, handsome young man, which you can see in his tribute video. We are a normal suburban family and did normal family things. He had a happy life, a 4.0 GPA with a scholarship to college, and a family who loved him very much. Unfortunately, we live in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize marijuana in 2014, when Johnny was 14 years old.
Three days before he passed, he came over for dinner. He lived in our condo a couple miles down the street and would often pop in for a home-cooked meal. “I need to tell you that you were right,” he says me. “Right about what?” I ask. “Right about the marijuana. You told me weed would hurt my brain, and it’s ruined my mind and my life. You were right all along. I’m sorry, and I love you.” He died by suicide three days later. Continue reading Johnny’s Story→
They say you can’t overdose on marijuana. When Brant Clark was seventeen years old, he had a devastating experience from smoking an enormous amount of marijuana at one time. It led to a sudden, major psychotic break, emergency room care, hospitalization for nearly a week, and ultimately his suicide two weeks later. This book documents some of the most important, yet widely under-reported research about the risks of marijuana and THC to youth.
My brother had good grades, friends and played sports. He came from a loving home and got his graduate degree at USC. He also liked to get high. After graduate school, he became homeless, mentally ill and went to jail many times.
Our son was happy and healthy before he started using marijuana at age 14. A friend introduced him to marijuana during a time when our family was supporting my wife in her fight against breast cancer. We noticed David changing rapidly, but attributed the change to puberty.
After being kicked out of the private school he had attended for many years, he became a heavy user and seemed to lose motivation for school and for life. He graduated from high school at the bottom of his class and started work as a plumber’s assistant. With his paychecks, he would buy more weed.
As his use became even heavier, he became increasingly removed from our family. He spoke of seeing aliens. By last Thanksgiving he appeared catatonic. The next day he stabbed his right palm with his pocket knife. He was hospitalized in a local mental health facility and diagnosed with depression and psychosis, and only tested positive for marijuana.
After a 6-day inpatient stay, David was discharged with no discharge planning. Notes from the facility reveal that David filled out a questionnaire on the day of discharge expressing that he “often” felt panic or terror and that he had made plans to end his life. This was not made known to the family, and he was discharged anyway.
After discharge he started an outpatient program. On the fourth day he smoked cannabis in the woods behind our house. Then he came inside, got a gun from the safe and shot himself.
Marijuana kills! It killed my son. We will never escape David’s loss, but we hope that by telling his story we can help other parents and children understand that marijuana is far from harmless. (We published a testimony by David’s sibling who described the effects of his death on the family.)
We have other articles that explain how the mental health system often fails in treatments for marijuana addiction, part 1. Mental health care fails at addiction treatment, part 2.