Marijuana is about to become legal in Canada, and Health Canada has a $100 million plan – spaced over the next six years – on how to educate the nation’s residents on the effects of marijuana use. One social media campaign has been in place for months, and a campaign against impaired driving was initiated last fall.
Included in that impressive price tag is $62.5 million that will go to help educate communities on the dangers of marijuana use, which includes funds to various organizations and indigenous groups to most effectively get through to different groups of people.
Another program underway is an interactive tour designed to reach teens. Gone are the days that a simple pamphlet will engage and inform. Instead, the data and information requires packaging in a purely technological manner.
The approach to education and awareness campaigns has changed as well. In the past, efforts were focused on encouraging teens to avoid use entirely. However, now marijuana is legal, at least for those over a specific age (18-19 depending on the province) and who possess the appropriate amounts. The newest campaigns have a tiered approach that attempts to bring awareness to potential dangers of continuous marijuana use.
The campaigns include warnings that cannabis is harmful when smoked, and that use can lead to mental disorders and is a danger to the fetus while a woman is pregnant or the infant while the mother is breastfeeding.
Beyond that, the campaigns are working to help parents connect with their children on the topic of marijuana use. This will help them help their children, rather than ignoring a potential risk to the youth in their care. Children may or may not appreciate parental efforts, but it’s still recognized as a primary form of effective education for those who haven’t reached voting age.
The fact of the matter is, according to education supporters, teens are not likely to even follow political reform. Marijuana use may be a recognized facet of their lives, but they don’t know that the laws are changing. Therefore, the best methods to reach teens are focused on letting them know the danger, with less focus on the fact that their actions may well be legal in today’s climate.