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Colorado Changes Tone in Anti-Teen Cannabis Use Promotions

Cannabis may not be evil, but teens aren’t ready for it yet. That’s the theme of a new effort by Colorado to educate youths about the newly legal plant.

The “What’s Next” campaign aims to send the message that cannabis can keep youths from achieving their full potential. The campaign shows kids being active and reminds them that their brains aren’t fully developed until they’re 25.

It’s a second try for Colorado when it comes to keeping minors away from cannabis. The state Health Department was criticized last year for a youth pot campaign called “Don’t Be A Lab Rat,” which included erecting human-sized rat cages outside schools and libraries.

The campaign angered cannabis activists, who said it recycled Drug War-era scare tactics. At least one school district declined to display the campaign’s human-sized rat cages. Some teens skewered the campaign by photographing themselves smoking pot inside the cages, then posting the images on social media.

The new effort seeks a more thoughtful tone. Health Department officials talked with more than 800 minors through focus groups, school visits and phone interviews to craft the campaign.

In a news release touting the campaign, the Health Department said that its research showed that teens “want credible information to make their own health decisions and don’t respond to ‘preachy’ messages or scare tactics.”

The education campaigns are funded by Colorado taxes on recreational marijuana.