Article by Janice Dickson, National Post
In the past, public health campaigns warning of the harmful effects of drugs delivered one resounding message: Don’t do it.
But now that the federal government has decided to legalize marijuana, Health Canada has undertaken new strategies to try and land on teens’ screens and in the places they hang out.
“Inevitably, that communication and education is going to be more nuanced and subtle,” said David Hammond, a professor in the school of public health at the University of Waterloo.
Hammond said the federal government has adopted a harm reduction approach to its education around cannabis. That means instead of warning the public not to consume it, the messages point out that there are circumstances where it should be avoided.
Health Canada says it has rolled out a number of public education campaigns and has invested some coin in the effort. A social media campaign has been underway since last spring, and Public Safety began running a campaign on drug-impaired driving last fall.
There’s also a cannabis health facts advertising campaign underway, launched last March, which aims to deliver “honest facts” to teens. This campaign features questions from the public and answers by cannabis experts, and can be found on the government’s cannabis website. As recently as July, Health Canada launched an interactive engagement tour which targets youth and young adults and takes place at events like fairs, music festivals and sporting events.