You would be hard pressed finding anything more obnoxious than anti-cannabis public service announcements. Whether you’re being chastised by a dog or a subway car full of ghosts blaming your cannabis hobby for their deaths, anti-cannabis campaigns have always been over the top, based on fear and wholly ineffective.
Last year Colorado tried to curb teen marijuana use with its “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” campaign, where giant cages were strategically placed around Colorado with the campaign’s eponymous slogan. The campaign was poorly received and some were even vandalized.
Building upon those hard lessons learned, the Colorado Department of Health & Environment has just rolled out a new marijuana education program and its platform reflects changing societal attitudes on cannabis.
Dubbed the “Good to Know” campaign, state health officials hope to educate people on how to enjoy cannabis responsibly instead of trying to scare people away from it. Speaking with The Denver Post, Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the CDPHE, called the campaign “neighborly.”
“This is not an aversion campaign,” Wolk said. “This is really a way to educate folks without alienating folks.”
The campaign is aimed at educating the public about cannabis laws and basic cannabis safety. While cannabis law may be obvious to those in the cannabis industry, the USA Today reports that only 27 percent of Coloradans know it is illegal to smoke cannabis in public and only 23 percent know that only persons 21 years or older may buy or consume cannabis.
That is a startling level of ignorance.
The print advertisements look decidedly retro with muted and washed looking colors. Each little slogan in the ad rhymes and teaches a cannabis safety tip such as “Store it right: Locked Up, Out of Reach and Out of Sight.” This simple subdued style is perfectly suited to resonate with even the most irritable of cynics.
The radio advertisements feature a folksy singing and rhyming cowboy with banjo music playing in the background. To call it cheesy would be an understatement, but that stark contrast to the lab rat campaign is what makes it an effective tool.
Time reports that the whole campaign cost $5.7 million and is the first cannabis education program that is exclusively funded by recreational marijuana taxes.
This education program is a step in the right direction for cannabis public health. People are going to use cannabis, regardless of whether or not you try to scare them. Health officials in Colorado have learned this the hard way, but at least they have finally come around to the side of encouraging educated and responsible use.
If the “Good to Know” campaign is successful, other states are likely to emulate Colorado’s efforts as well. The benefit will be twofold: citizens will be more likely to use cannabis responsibly and skeptics will come to learn that cannabis is not the bogeyman, which helps your bottom line in the long run.