In-Person, Virtual, and Recorded Presentations by Laura Stack, Johnny’s mom
“This was truly the best presentation I’ve seen to date on the current state of marijuana. Those of us who work in prevention need to fully understand what you shared with us.”
– Carie Wimberly, Executive Director, Addiction Prevention Coalition
“I was very moved to hear your story, and I am very grateful for the fact that you have been so dedicated to teaching teens about the downfalls of marijuana; from what I have learned, the negatives definitely outweigh the minimal, short-term positives. I have found this course to be very informing, and I never knew that the effects of smoking marijuana could be so severe.”
– A high school teen in NJ
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Who is Laura Stack?
Laura Stack is Johnny Stack’s mom and the Founder & CEO of Johnny’s Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention. For 30 years prior to starting her nonprofit, Laura was better known in the business world by her professional moniker, The Productivity Pro®. She is a Hall-of-Fame Speaker and corporate spokesperson for many major brands. Laura is a bestselling author of eight books on time management topics with a large social media following, and she has given keynote speeches and training seminars to major corporate, association, and government audiences for three decades.
But on November 20, 2019, Laura suddenly acquired the undesired wisdom of knowing what it’s like to lose one’s child, when her 19-year-old son, Johnny, died by suicide. He became psychotic after dabbing and vaping high-potency marijuana concentrates and thought the mob was after him.
Laura’s world took a 180. She knew so little about the harms of marijuana and was determined to teach other parents and teens what she had learned, so the same thing wouldn’t happen to them. She filed for and received 501c3 nonprofit status for Johnny’s Ambassadors, Inc., with the mission to educate parents, teens, and communities about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana on adolescent brain development, psychosis, and suicide.
Laura wrote the bestselling book, The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana: Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story, with 300 pages and 176 scientific notations about what happened. Described as a woman with unstoppable drive and unwavering purpose, Laura hopes to help other parents, grandparents, teachers (and frankly all adults with teens in their lives) by honestly and boldly sharing Johnny’s story of his high-potency marijuana use, psychosis, and suicide.
The devastating loss of her child gives Laura a powerful voice and a platform for change. Johnny’s story has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, PBS, and Dr. Phil, among others. Laura sees it as her responsibility to share Johnny’s warning that “marijuana ruined my mind and my life” to prevent other families from having to go through what she did and save other young lives from the harms of marijuana.
Laura’s platform now brings marijuana education, awareness, and prevention curriculum around the U.S. to raise awareness of the harms of THC use for youth. She speaks at middle schools, high schools, and universities across the U.S. sharing Johnny’s warning with young people. She also gives in-person and virtual keynotes for drug prevention conferences, suicide prevention conferences, law enforcement conferences, coalition community events, parent nights, corporate wellness programs, and government agencies.
Laura does NOT use “scare tactics” or a “just say no” judgmental approach. Her talks are heavily science-focused and research-based, while weaving in Johnny’s story, with the intent to provide information for young people to make informed choices about marijuana use. Her conversation around Johnny’s suicide is minimal, as it’s secondary to her focus on youth marijuana prevention. Laura is trauma-informed and does not discuss method of suicide with student audiences. While the end result of Johnny’s life is sad, her talk is hopeful, upbeat, and encouraging.
Laura is the recipient of the 2020 Drug-Free America Foundation’s Moxie Award for protecting youth from substances, the 2021 Leadership in Advocacy Award from the National Speakers Association, and the 2022 Loss Survivor of the Year award from the American Association of Suicidology. By sharing Johnny’s own warning about marijuana, Laura is determined to start a movement to bring teen marijuana use, mental illness, and suicide into the spotlight and get them to #StopDabbing.
Laura lives with her husband near Denver, Colorado and has two surviving adult children, ages 27 and 21.
“Forge ahead despite your pain and give meaning to your loss.” – Laura Stack
“One of the best presentations I have ever heard in my 10+ years working in child welfare/prevention. I am STILL thinking about it and have shared with others. You are amazing.”
– SARAH WIEDENHOEFT / AMP Statewide Coordinator, IA
Program Description: Adult/Parent Version
Presentation Title: The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana: Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story
Laura Stack’s 19-year-old son, Johnny, died by suicide on November 20, 2019, after becoming delusional from dabbing high-THC marijuana concentrates. Soon afterward, Laura started a 501c3, Johnny’s Ambassadors, to educate parents and teens about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana on adolescent brain development, mental illness, and suicide. In this session, Laura will share the story of Johnny’s marijuana addiction from a parent’s point of view, a poignant chronicle of the shocking descent from innocence to eventual suicide. Before marijuana, Johnny was a computer whiz with a 4.0 GPA and a perfect math score on the SAT. After marijuana, he stole his family dog from the home and threatened to kill it without payment from his mother. With moving candor, Laura traces the first warning signs, their attempts at rehabilitation, her desperation, and his eventual demise. Three days before his death, Johnny issued his own warning about marijuana usage. Through this tragic tale, Stack hopes to use her pain to help parents talk to their children about the dangers of today’s marijuana. Participants will hear a first-hand account of the death of a teen from marijuana use and be educated on the harms of marijuana on adolescent brain development, mental illness, and suicide. Laura’s real-life story is backed by recent scientific-based research on how today’s potent THC products lead to mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, psychosis, and sadly, suicidal ideation. This presentation is a clarion call for parents across America to educate themselves about the risks of today’s high-THC marijuana products and to better understand the potentially devastating effects on youth mental health.
- Learn About the High-Potency Marijuana Products Used by Today’s Youth
- Discover the Effect of THC on Adolescent and Teen Brain Development
- See the Results of Legalizing Medical Marijuana for 18-Year-Old’s in Colorado
- Understand How Adolescent Marijuana Use Can Lead to Mental Illness and Psychosis
- Understand the Connection Between Marijuana and Suicide in Youth
Laura’s presentation titles may be changed to fit your conference theme or her topic focus. Here are some previous presentation titles:
- A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: How My Son Died from Marijuana Psychosis
- Saving Our Youth from the Harms of Marijuana: Adolescent Brain Development, Mental Health, and Suicide
- Legalized Marijuana’s Impact in Colorado: the Experiment on Our Youth and Bill 1317
- The Gifts of Grief: How I Survived My 19-Year-Old Son’s Suicide
“Thanks again for your honest and impactful presentation yesterday morning for our students and during the evening for our parents. Many of our teachers said this was the best assembly we’ve ever had at Cathedral! God bless you for your outstanding communication and how you helped all of us as we influence our youth and actually save many of their lives!” David L. Worland, Senior Vice President for Mission and Advancement, Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN
Program Description: Teen/Student Version
“I wanted to share that we had a student recognize she was having issues from marijuana due to your talk, and she shared it with her mom and asked for counseling to help her stop. The mother called us and let her know that the Laura Stack program may have saved her daughter. That was an awesome call, and I wanted you to know.“
– Sharon Perkins, Stone County MO Coalition
NOTE FROM LAURA ABOUT SCHOOL ASSEMBLIES: I use a science-based, research-based approach that is non-judgmental and non-preachy. I teach students why THC is bad for their brains and encourage them to consider the science when making decisions for themselves in the future. We discuss why today’s THC products are different; how concentrates, vapes, and edibles are made through extraction; how potency is calculated and what it means for dosage; how the adolescent brain forms; how THC makes people high; how THC mimics our natural endocannabinoids; what the Endocannabinoid System is and why it matters; where CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in the body; what happens when THC gets into the developing mind; the possible negative outcomes that can happen to teens who use; the research tying marijuana use to increased mental illness, psychosis, and suicidality; what they will experience if using and attempt to stop; what to do and say when offered marijuana at a party and they don’t want to use; what the FDA has approved as medicine and what is not; what to do if a friend is using and they see warning signs; and how to get help for themselves if needed. Throughout it all, I weave in Johnny’s story to anchor the science point and keep them engaged with the challenges he experienced. The talk is NOT a suicide prevention talk and is not upsetting. I am very trauma-informed and have not had youth leave my presentation from getting upset. This is a Youth Marijuana Prevention talk without the scare tactics. Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions about my approach!
Laura Stack’s 19-year-old son, Johnny, died by suicide on November 20, 2019, after becoming delusional from dabbing high-THC marijuana concentrates. Soon afterward, Laura started a nonprofit organization, Johnny’s Ambassadors, to educate parents and teens about the dangers youth marijuana use. Before marijuana, Johnny was a computer whiz with a 4.0 GPA and a perfect math score on the SAT. After marijuana, he stole his family dog from the home and threatened to kill it without payment from his mother. Three days before his death, Johnny issued his own warning about his marijuana usage, “Marijuana ruined my mind and my life.” Through this tragic tale, Stack hopes to help teens understand how marijuana can harm them. Laura’s teen presentation tells Johnny’s story and covers the potential harms of today’s high-THC marijuana products.
- Who’s Johnny?
- “Then” vs. “Now” marijuana
- Why do youth use marijuana?
- Is marijuana medicine?
- Adolescent brain development (with videos)
- Impacts of THC use on adolescents (cartoon series)
- Risks of mental illness, psychosis, and suicide
- You are your brain’s BFF: take care of it
- Recognizing risky situations and learning refusal skills
Keynote Speeches and Seminars
(live or virtual)
“Dear Laura, I just finished listening to the webinar you did for us and had to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for your passion and persistence. This webinar was the best I have ever attended. The information you shared was priceless, practical, and will save lives. There were so many takeaways for me but this one says it all: “Silence implies permission.” Your passion has re-ignited my passion to not be silent about marijuana and the many other issues we address. I am so sorry for your loss of Johnny, an amazing son! Thank you for sharing his life with all of us. Gratefully,
– Jean Schumm, President & Founder, Operation Parent”
Laura is generally the opening, luncheon, or closing keynote or general session speaker, or the only speaker at a school assembly with the title, “The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana: Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story.”
Laura can also give a breakout following her keynote or a virtual webinar on these topics (reduced fee when added on):
- Delta-8, Delta-10, HHG, THC-O and A! Understanding the THC Alphabet Soup
- The Duty of Care for “Medical” Marijuana: How Law Enforcement and Prevention Professionals Can Keep THC Out of the Hands of Our Youth
- The Effects of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: the Harsh Reality 20 Years Later
- CO HB 1317 Regulating marijuana Concentrates: How Guardrails Were Put in Place in CO to protect our youth
- The Gifts of Grief: Unexpected Blessings After My Son’s Suicide
Sustainable Programming – no additional charge
- Prior to Laura’s presentation, we offer a 10-question pre/post survey of students, so we can measure behavior and perception change before and after Laura’s presentation. A report is provided with the final metrics to give to your administration, coalition members, or board.
- After Laura’s presentation, we can provide copies of our 16-page glossy bound Youth Marijuana Prevention Magazine to use in classes (taught by a teacher, not as a leave-behind).
- If a student is caught with vapes or THC products at school, we offer a self-paced, 8-module online curriculum to use as a suspension alternative or education while in suspension at school.
Laura uses a PowerPoint show with a video. She requests a projector/screen and microphone. She prefers to operate her laptop (PC with built-in HDMI) from the front of the room. See this page for full requests.
All speaking fees are paid to the order of the nonprofit 501(c)3, Johnny’s Ambassadors, EIN 85-0593925.
Laura can give up to three presentation in one day (typically a middle school, high school, and a parent/community night). Fees are reduced for multiple programs in one day. You can partner with other schools or communities to split fees (90 minutes maximum distance). Please contact us for current rates (we will try hard to work with your budget).
1. IN-PERSON presentation: flat fee plus travel (sometimes we have a grant to cover travel)
2. VIRTUAL WEBINAR presentation: complimentary use of our GoToWebinar platform if desired
3. VIDEO VIEWING: license to show a prior presentation to your group
Email [email protected] for more information on inviting Laura to speak at your meeting or check dates. Or fill out our Contact Form with the details of your event. Or download our program brochure, and our program fees are on the last page.
Pre/Post Results After a Presentation at a NJ High School March 2022
Positive % increases represent improvements in these numbers (some are reverse scored). We can run this same survey before and after Laura’s presentation at your school as well.
Spokesperson. She is or has been a spokesperson for Fellowes, Xerox, Dannon, Belvita, Microsoft, 3M, WB Mason, Office Depot, QVC, and Day-Timer.
Media-savvy: Laura has appeared on CNN, QVC, CBS “This Morning,” Fox News, and countless local and national TV and radio programs, as well as in print and web publications such as People Magazine, USA Today, CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
Platform. Laura has given 60-80 keynote speeches and seminars a year for nearly 30 years. She has 28K+ twitter followers and 15K+ LinkedIn followers.
Prestigious client base. Her productivity-improvement programs have helped 500+ clients such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Microsoft, MillerCoors, Heinz, IBM, Aramark, and VISA.
Notoriety. Laura enjoys a high profile, visible industry presence as a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. She was the 2011-2012 President of the National Speakers Association and on its board for 10 years.
30-year for-profit entrepreneur of The Productivity Pro® and Leadership USA and now Founder & CEO of Johnny’s Ambassadors.
- Calvina Fay MOXIE Award winner from the Drug-Free America Foundation
- QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper
- LivingWorks Start Training in Suicide Prevention
- Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification
- Hall of Fame keynote speaker, CPAE
- Certified Speaking Professional, CSP
- Masters of Business Administration, MBA
- Past President of the National Speakers Association
- Experienced media authority
- Experienced with obtaining high-level sponsors and partnerships
- Spokesperson for large brands
- Large existing community of followers
- Author of nine books by major publishers including The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana: Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story.