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Billboard shares message about marijuana, mental-health connection
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This billboard recently was erected on U.S. 281, north of Great Bend.

While they couldn’t literally shout it from the rooftops, leaders of Youth Crew and Juvenile Services (JS) found what they hope is an effective way to spread the word about marijuana and its effect on mental health.

A 12-by-32-foot billboard recently found a home on U.S. 281, north of Great Bend near the turnoff to Barton Community College.

When traveling south on the highway, motorists can see the message: “How come being high leaves you feeling low?”

The smaller print says: “Research has linked cannabis use with suicidal thoughts and behaviors among teens in the United States – National Institute on Drug Abuse 2023.”

“When we talk with young people and parents about marijuana, we often hear that people are using it for depression, anxiety, focus and other reasons,” said Tyler Morton, JS prevention advocate and Youth Crew leader. When we ask if it is helping, the majority say they are still noticing negative effects on mental health.

“There is more research coming out that directly correlates the increased amount of THC to greater mental-health struggles,” Morton added. “These struggles include suicidal thoughts, paranoia and explosive emotional outbursts.”

Morton created the main message on the billboard and provided the information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Youth Crew members and their families, along with JS staff, chose the design after reviewing several options,” Morton noted. “All of us are happy to see the billboard up on the highway, spreading the word.”

According to the billboard company, the location gets just over 31,000 impressions per day. The three groups mentioned at the bottom of the billboard are YLINK, which stands for Youth Leaders in Kansas; Youth Crew; and 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services.

“We are currently working on other billboard designs for when the contract for this one is concluded,” Morton said.

Youth Crew is a program under the umbrella of JS and the Central Kansas Partnership.

20th Judicial District Juvenile Services empowers youth in Barton, Rice, Ellsworth, Stafford and Russell counties to achieve positive outcomes by offering Juvenile Intake & Assessment, Immediate Intervention, Intensive Supervised Probation, Case Management, Journey to Change, Life Skills, All Stars and Youth Crew. Parents and guardians also are offered The Parent Project. Visit 1800 12th in Great Bend or call 620-793-1930.