2023 Johnny's Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention Conference LIVE AND LIVESTREAM
2023 Johnny's Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention Conference

About 2023 Johnny's Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention Conference


July 10 & 11, 2023


This hybrid conference will be held IN PERSON in Lone Tree, CO, and LIVE STREAMED to virtual attendees. All attendees, live and virtual, will receive access to the recordings for 30 days to watch on your own time. 


This event is appropriate for:

  • Educators
  • School administrators
  • School nurses
  • School Resource Officers
  • School substance abuse counselors
  • Healthcare providers
  • Addiction counselors
  • Community-based organizations and coalitions
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Prevention specialists
  • Parents who are concerned about their child's marijuana use
  • Anyone else who works with or in support of youth

Attend to understand the latest science on the harms of youth marijuana use. You'll participate in real-time conference presentations and interact with the speakers through Q&A sessions (via chat if you're virtual).

DATES: Monday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 11, 2023

TIME: 8:30 registration – 9:00 start – 5:30 end (MOUNTAIN) both days

LOCATION: The IN PERSON session will be held at the Conference Center at RidgeGate, 9878 Schwab Way Suite 401 (Summit Room), Lone Tree, CO 80124. The virtual session will be LIVE STREAMED to any internet browser (not Zoom). All attendees will receive access to the recordings for 30 days to watch or review at their convenience. In-person registration includes breakfast, lunch, materials, parking, and all-day beverages for both days.

HOTELS: Here is a link to nearby hotels.

INVESTMENT: $349 in person and $149 livestream

PDUs and CEs: 

Certified Addiction Technicians (ACA), Certified Addiction Specialists (ACC), and Licensed Addiction Counselors (ACD) and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) - this conference meets the competency requirements as set forth by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies for 12.5 professional development hours (PDH) of continuing professional development (CPD). A certificate will be provided. It is your responsibility to determine if each course is within your scope of practice and to file with your certifying body if required or maintain your records.

This conference is also eligible for 12.5 CEs from the NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals.

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The agenda for both days will be as follows. Sessions are 75 minutes to allow time for Q&A. Each presentation is a general session. ALL TIMES MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE.

DAY 1 - July 10

8:30 Registration and Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome with Laura Stack

9:15 – 10:30 Session Speaker 1 – Jo McGuire

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:00 Session Speaker 2 – Roneet Lev, MD

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch with Sponsor Segment – Luke Niforatos (SAM)

1:00 – 2:15 Session Speaker 3 – Aaron Weiner, Ph.D.

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:45 Session Speaker 4 – James Henning

3:45-4:00 Break

4:00-5:15 Session Speaker 5 – Dale Quigley

5:15 – 5:30 Close

Day 2 - July 11

8:30 Registration and Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome with Laura Stack

9:15 – 10:30 Session Speaker 1 – Dave Savage

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:00 Session Speaker 2 – Julie Dreifaldt

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch with Sponsor Segment TBD

1:00 – 2:15 Session Speaker 3 – Ben Cort

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:45 Session Speaker 4 – Mike Barnes, MD

3:45-4:00 Break

4:00-5:15 Session Speaker 5 - Crystal Collier, Ph.D.

5:15 – 5:30 Close


$349: LIVE EVENT (includes breakfast, lunch, all-day beverages, parking, and materials for both days). 

$149: LIVE STREAM (includes both days - per connection)

9:00 Laura Stack, Founder & CEO, Johnny's Ambassadors

Welcome and Johnny’s Warning

Laura Stack was best known in the business world for her professional moniker, The Productivity ProHer 30-year career as a keynote speaker, bestselling author of eight productivity books, and corporate spokesperson came to a screeching halt on November 20, 2019, when her 19-year-old son, Johnny, died by suicide after becoming psychotic from dabbing high-THC marijuana concentrates. Laura responded by forming the nonprofit, 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. Her platform now brings education, awareness, and prevention curriculum to parents, drug prevention conferences, community groups, and schools to stop youth marijuana use. She is a powerful speaker who brings Johnny’s personal warning and solid research together in her new book, The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana: Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story

9:15 – 10:30 AM - Jo McGuire

Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education

Jo will then share her personal story as the mother of a teen addict. She will show attendees what contemporary cannabis products look like and how they are marketed directly to their children. She will give an in-depth description of how and why adolescent cannabis use is harmful to the developing adolescent brain.

  • Understand how to recognize the difference in contemporary marijuana-derived products vs. “old school” weed of the past.
  • Learn the impact of cannabis use on the developing, adolescent brain.
  • Develop a strategy for how to approach children at different ages regarding substance use along with prevention tools.

Jo McGuire is an advocate for safe and drug free workplaces, families, and communities. Jo is the Executive Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association. She is a national conference speaker, published author, and the President and CEO of Five Minutes of Courage. Jo is also the mother of an addict and shares her story with parents of loss, love, hope, and healing. Jo is a member of the National Marijuana Initiative Speakers Bureau.

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM - Roneet Lev, MD

The Reality from the Emergency Room

Is marijuana a medicine? It’s very confusing. Isn’t it safer than deadly opioids for pain? No one dies of marijuana, right? Learn fact from fiction as Dr. Lev takes you through from glaucoma to seizures dispelling the myths of “medical” marijuana based on science and clinical experience as an emergency physician.

  • Learn about the research and indication of using marijuana for pain
  • Dispel myths of using marijuana for various medical conditions. 
  • Learn the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana

Roneet Lev, MD FACEP was the first Chief Medical Officer of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, ONDCP, 2018-2020. She brought refreshing frontline medical experience to national health policy. She is a nationally acclaimed medical expert and speaker who continues to treat patients in the emergency department and hosts a podcast titled High Truths on Drugs and Addiction. As a mother of four she relates to families who struggle. Lev uses data to drive change and is frequently quoted in print and television media. She runs the popular podcast, HighTruths.com. Dr. Lev is on the Scientific Advisory Board for Johnny's Ambassadors.

1:00 – 2:15 PM - Aaron Weiner, Ph.D.

Future THC: Semi-synthetic Cannabinoids and the Impact of THC Availability on Communities

In this session, Aaron will cover how semi-synthetic cannabinoids are being derived from hemp to further circumvent the law (HHC, THC-O, Delta-8, THC-P, etc.). You will learn:

* How CBD conversions are done

* What products are available

* The local impact due to availability in gas stations

* The impact of dispensaries on the immediate surrounding community.

Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP is a board-certified Psychologist and addiction specialist, who speaks nationally on the topics of addiction, behavioral health, and the impact of drug policy on public health. He earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed his fellowship in Addiction Psychology at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. His perspective is informed by years of experience growing and directing addiction service lines for hospitals and healthcare systems, the current state of medical and psychological research, and his own observations in private practice. Dr. Weiner is the President of the Society of Addiction Psychology, a member of the Physician Speakers Bureau for the National Safety Council, and on the Science Advisory Board for Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Johnny’s Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention.

2:30-3:45 PM - James Henning

Close to Home: The Impact of Marijuana Legalization on Families and Kids 

James will educate attendees on the impacts on families, children, and neighborhoods experienced in Denver surrounding legalization.

Topics covered:

• The hazards surrounding the growing of marijuana and the production (including extraction techniques) of high potency products such as DABs, oils, and edibles

• The continuing dangers surrounding the black-market trade in Marijuana

• The risks of edibles (with sample cases)

• Why marijuana poses an increased risk to Drug Endangered Children since legalization (with sample cases)

James Henning served over 31 years with the Denver Police Department and recently retired after attaining the rank of Commander. In 2012, James became Lieutenant of the Vice/Drug control unit. That same Fall, Colorado was the first state to legalize the production, sale, and possession of recreational Marijuana. In his role as lieutenant, James took the lead in developing the Denver Police Department’s policy, procedure, and implementing Municipal Code and State Law to address the complicated issues created by the new law. As the Commander of the DPD Investigative Support Division from 2016 – 2020, James lead the DPD Vice/Drug Unit, Excise and Licensing team, Gang Unit, Intelligence Unit, Human Trafficking Team, various task forces, and created the Real Time Crime Center.

4:00-5:15 PM - Dale Quigley

Legalization of Marijuana: the Impacts in Colorado

This presentation gives a factual look at the impact that legalization of marijuana has had in Colorado and elsewhere. After Colorado legalized marijuana for both “medical” and recreational purposes it continues to have numerous adverse consequences. Key areas that are being impacted are Public Health, Public Safety, and the creation of current policies based on out of date or incomplete information. This presentation offers the facts concerning the consequences of making marijuana legal. This is a fast-paced look at the evolving impacts that the legalization of marijuana is having not only in Colorado but other states.

* How the impacts of legal marijuana experienced in Colorado can be used as a predictive analysis tool elsewhere

* Marijuana’s adverse impacts to public health issues

* The implications legalized marijuana has on public safety concerns

Dale D. Quigley has been the Deputy Coordinator of the National Marijuana Initiative Speakers Bureau, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA) Program since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

9:15 – 10:30 AM - Dave Savage

The End Point of Marijuana Legalization: Our Schools

As a school resource officer, I have seen firsthand the impacts of marijuana legislation, use of marijuana, and ease of access to the drug. Since marijuana use is an issue in our schools, I will be speaking about:

* Marijuana accessibility and different products

* How kids are using marijuana at school and hiding it

* How school resource officers respond to marijuana use at school and handle offenses

* What you can do in a school to prevent marijuana use

Dave Savage is a Deputy Sheriff with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Douglas County, CO. He has worked for the Sheriff's Office for 6 years and has served as a School Resource Officer (SRO) for the past four years at one of the 10 high schools in Douglas County. Deputy Savage started his career in law enforcement following a career in Electrical Engineering, in which he holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. In his current position as an SRO, he wears several different hats handling issues from stolen items, to school fights, to drugs on campus. In addition, Deputy Savage serves as an informal mentor/counselor and a classroom teacher. The best part of his day is when he can have conversations with students getting to know who they really are. Deputy Savage believes SROs play a vital role in building good community relationships between law enforcement and the next generation of citizens. 

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM - Julie Dreifaldt

How to Better Protect Youth from Marijuana Commercialization

This session will teach participants effective ways to engage citizens and key stakeholders in all sectors of their community to ensure youth are better protected from the negative impacts of medical and recreational commercialized marijuana. It will arm concerned citizens and advocates on empowering ways to address today’s most harmful gaps when it comes to marijuana policies, regulations, and education.  It will provide hands-on strategies to effectively coordinate the engagement of elected officials, media, coalition partners, health experts, and concerned parents and educators to secure high-impact youth safeguards. 

  • Explore current gaps in marijuana policy, regulations, and education and why they matter
  • Highlight proactive ways to better protect youth at the local, state, and national level
  • Share community engagement techniques to increase positive outcomes for youth 
  • Discuss strategic ways to engage media while educating the community on today’s THC products and potencies

Julie works closely with donors and foundations, communicates with supporters and parents and continually builds partnerships for One Chance to Grow Up. Julie passionately advocates for kids and equips parents and educators to speak the truth about marijuana. She facilitates coalition development and capacity building and is always seeking opportunities to engage new community partners. Julie speaks nationally to parents, communities, educators, trusted adults and school organizations about the harms of today’s marijuana and the impacts on kids. She has a B.A in English and in History from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

1:00 – 2:15 PM - Ben Cort

Surprising Truths About Legalizing Marijuana

When marijuana is legalized in the next state, the pot industry moves in to claim its next victims: our youth. Learn the truth about how Big Marijuana targets their next generation of addicts, so you are prepared to discuss the harms with your children.

  • The economics of weed – the pot industry needs its next addicts
  • Contributing factors to marijuana dependence in youth
  • Normalization of cannabis
  • Tapping emotional connections
  • Targeting youth: frequency, media, placement
  • Understanding TODAY’S weed and how it’s used

From non-profits to hospitals to private programs, Ben has been a leader inside of many forms of addiction treatment and prevention. From 2017-2020, Ben was a consultant to various treatment programs, state governments, professional and collegiate athletics, and labor. He is now CEO of the Foundry Steamboat Springs, an inpatient treatment program for men in the mountains of Colorado. Ben is a Jr. Fellow at the University of Florida inside of their drug policy institute, a board member for NALGAP (National Association of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender treatment providers and their allies), a Board member at SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), a member of the Advisory Council at Johnny's Ambassadors, and faculty at numerous institutes. He is a published author (Weed Inc, Simon and Shuster 2017), and his TED talk “Surprising Truths about Legalizing Cannabis” has been viewed over 2.5 million times.

2:30-3:45 PM - Mike Barnes, MD

Treatment of Marijuana Addiction and Cannabis-Induced Psychosis

Throughout the past 35 years I have had the opportunity to work in a wide variety of treatment, hospital, and academic settings. I have worked primarily in the areas of substance abuse treatment, traumatology, marriage and family therapy and inpatient/outpatient psychiatric care. I have worked as both front line treatment staff and program administration. I am currently the Chief Clinical Officer at Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I also consult and present on issues associated with families, trauma, and addiction. I have published in the areas of family traumatology, marriage and family therapy training, and sex therapy in the couples context.

4:00-5:15 PM - Crystal Collier, Ph.D.

Know Your NeuroWhereAbouts: Brain-Based Prevention and Treatment Strategies

Parents, caregivers, and school staff who know kid’s NeuroWhereAbouts understand phases of brain development and shape executive functioning skills accordingly. Dr. Crystal Collier, author of The NeuroWhereAbouts Guide, will define brain-based parenting and how to easily integrate brain-savvy prevention skills into daily practice. In this presentation, Dr. Collier will describe the prevention science principles that work to prevent and treat youth high-risk behavior. 

  1. How brain development is affected by behavioral health problems.
  2. The aspects of the Youth Recovery Continuum.
  3. How to determine what level of care youth need.
  4. How ow to choose the correct level of care for their youth considering the stages of change of each family member.
  5. What to do in a crisis and when to involve law enforcement.

Dr. Crystal Collier, Ph.D., has been working with adolescents and adults suffering from behavioral health issues such as substance abuse since 1991 and possesses a talent for making complex research and brain science easy to understand. Dr. Collier created a comprehensive prevention model to teach the neurodevelopmental effects of risky behavior to children, teens, and parents, which was selected for the 2015 Prevention and Education Commendation from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Crystal teaches counseling skills and addiction classes as an adjunct professor. In 2019, the Houston Counseling Association named her Counselor of the Year. Crystal is a member of Johnny's Ambassadors Scientific Advisory Board.


“Laura, I am so glad I attended the conference – as a mother and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. I am trying to spread the word about the toxic and dangerous impact of THC on kids one family at a time. This conference armed me with more facts, stories, and data to help this cause. It is disturbing how uninformed the public and parents are.  I only wish the schools would allow and support much, much more education. The school districts and social media public service announcements for kids are the main ways to get the information out.  I would be happy to help with any campaigns or in any other way that I can. All parents, educators, and politicians should be attending your conferences yearly and participating much more in the making necessary and critical changes in this area. Thank you for all you do. Your loss is with me every time I participate in anything we do to move the dial forward on destroying the THC industry’s power and hold on our kids.” - Lisa Hall, Counselor, L.M.F.T.

“Laura, Michele and I really appreciated and enjoyed attending the conference. You and your husband did an amazing job coordinating every detail and the conference was beyond our expectations. The venue was beautiful, the food was great, and the speakers were exceptional. As a 40 year career law enforcement professional, the information exchange was incredible. Thank you again for your dedication and conviction to helping others. We look forward to the conference next year.” - Dan Zsido, Seminole, Florida

“I’m sure your email is flooded with nothing but praises. The conference was absolutely fantastic. Next year I want to attend the 2 day in person. I loved Ben Cort, he was REAL. All the presentations were great. I felt like I was drinking from a firehose at times. I like how you broke it down by speaker and focus. The data and studies cited were really helpful. Cases from the ER kept us awake after lunch. The Marijuana Conference was jam packed with the most current, all encompassing information on youth and THC.  When I want the most up to date, impactful information or data, I go to Johnny’s Ambassadors website, or scan the FB posts. Laura Stack is passionate about protecting our kids from the dangers of THC. The best in the field respect her and know she gets the message out. They were all at the conference and delivered a punch to motivate us to join the offensive taking back our youth’s wellness.” - Nancy Henderson, Project Coordinator, Prevention Council of Roanoke

“Eight years ago I felt quite alone with my son Andy’s THC induced suicide. The note he left read ‘My soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.’ The Johnny’s Ambassadors conference assures me the medical and family community so seriously impacted by the risks and harms of THC is now awakened and roaring. Major media and our legislators will find it increasingly difficult to continue their chronic apathy about harms to youth as they support drug use normalization and commercialized addiction for profit.” - Sally Schindel

“Johnny’s Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention Conference felt so personal. The heartfelt mission to prevent youth use of Laura and her family is felt throughout the entire experience.  From the choice of exceptional speakers to how Laura skillfully mixes the science with her family’s agonizing journey. It is a trademark of Johnny’s Ambassadors as a whole.” - Heidi Swan

“Where do I even start... Amazing!! From start to finish, I was all in!! You have taken your unimaginable loss and turned it into something so meaningful to so many people! I am brand new to my local coalition to help prevent substance abuse in our youth, and this was such a great conference for my first experience! The information you all presented was very meaningful, real world experiences and such great knowledge by all of your presenters. I was part of the live stream, and it was flawless. I cannot wait to take back all I learned to the coalition that I am a part of. I appreciate you making the recording available to us, some of the information I would like to hear again. I loved the fact that your presenters didn’t present just the statistics but also gave some really helpful information on how to connect with the kids, and to help get the information to the kids so they may actually listen to the message. This is beyond important information,  you have a great team surrounding you to help deliver the message. Keep up the great work that you all are doing and I look forward to seeing you all again next year!! Thank you. - Brenda Ready RN, Med/Surg Charge Nurse, Genesis Medical Center

“The conference was incredible Laura. I was very impressed by the breadth of what was covered and the quality of the speakers. I will be able to use a lot of what I learned in my coalition work here in New Jersey. Thank you for organizing this conference!” - Michael Regenelli, SCRATCH Project Coordinator, The Southwest Council, Inc.

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