Teens aren’t rats; tell them truth about pot
By Sabrina Fendrick
Posted: 08/23/2014 05:01:00 PM MDT1
Re:”‘Lab Rat’ teen pot campaign is a worthy effort <http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_26317803/lab-rat-teen-pot-campaign-is-worthy-effort> ,” Aug. 12 editorial.
The Denver Post’s endorsement of Colorado’s latest teen anti-pot campaign, though well-intentioned, fails to recognize that the tactics employed by the state – including putting human-sized rat cages as large props on street corners and running “shock and awe”-type TV ads – will do nothing to discourage teen use.
Yes, teens should absolutely be made aware of the potential risks that cannabis consumption can have on their developing bodies. However, like The Post’s editorial board points out, “kids don’t react well to over-the-top drug messages.” Comparing Colorado teens to rodents in a science experiment is disingenuous and will do nothing to encourage kids to stay away from pot.
In fact, it may have the opposite effect. A 2008 study published in The Open Communication Journal found that fear-based anti-drug ads actually increased curiosity for the drug among adolescents.
Teen marijuana-use rates in Colorado are below the national average, according to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey finds that this trend is continuing post-legalization. This result was achieved without employing ridiculous marketing tactics, like this latest “lab rat” campaign.
Adolescents should be made aware that there are potential negative effects to consuming cannabis before adulthood. But warning them they could suffer from long-term brain damage is an overdramatic reach that will lose credibility among the intended audience. Teens need factual information that will give them the tools they need to make good decisions.
They also need to be educated on how to reduce any harm associated with its use, as well as how to distinguish between use and abuse. Just as it is socially acceptable to discuss the adult use of alcohol with teens, the same should go for marijuana.