How Is Colorado Keeping Teens Away From Marijuana?


Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana and is now taking steps to keep teenagers from using the drug. In it’s second public service campaign since pot became legal at the start of 2014, Colorado was careful not to vilify the drug like they did in the first campaign.

Research done properly

This time, Health Department officials talked with more than 800 minors through focus groups, during school visits, and through phone interviews. This was part of the research process to help craft the campaign. The outcome was an ad that sends the message that marijuana use early in life can hinder the development of a child’s potential. The campaign is called “What’s Next” and the adverts depict active kids and remind them that their brains are still in a sensitive stage where they are continuing to develop until they’re 25. The ads say that pot use can make it harder for them to pass a test, land a job, or pass the exam for a driver’s license.

It’s definitely a progress from the last year’s campaign called “Don’t Be A Lab Rat,” which marijuana activists complained about saying that it recycled Drug War-era scare tactics. The campaign also included erecting human-sized rat cages outside schools and libraries. Needles to say that teenagers started using the installation to mock and criticize the campaign by photographing themselves smoking pot inside the cages, and posting the images on social media. That was the point when Colorado’s officials decided to do a proper research and find out what messages would resonate with these teens. The research obviously told them that the teens of Colorado are an ambitious crowd that would tick to the mention of destroyed young brains.

Teens don’t respond to ‘preachy’ messages

In a press release for the campaign the Health Department said that their research showed that teens “want credible information to make their own health decisions and don’t respond to ‘preachy’ messages or scare tactics.” One ad shows a teen girl playing on a basketball court and the tag line, “Don’t let marijuana get in the way of ambition.” Another ad shows a boy playing on a drum set with the tag line, “Don’t let marijuana get in the way of passion.”

This is not the only campaign that Colorado has been running lately. They also have an educational campaign for the general public up and running. This one includes tips for parents on how to talk to their kids about marijuana – the newly legal drug. The title of the campaign is “Good To Know” and it includes the ad that encourages parents to start the conversation about the drug but it also tells the parents to stay positive and try to teach their kids that marijuana is not something to build an identity around, which is a trap that many teenagers fall into.


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