New Campaign Helps Adults Talk to Youth About Marijuana Use

Marijuana Leaf
Published Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has launched a youth marijuana prevention campaign aimed at "trusted adults." The campaign provides parents, educators, coaches, mentors and others who work with youth with the tools, tips and information they need to talk to youth about the importance of not using retail marijuana before age 21.

"This campaign is a priority for me," said Gov. John Hickenlooper. "Just because marijuana is legal in Colorado doesn't mean it's safe for our young people. As a parent, I know conversations like these aren't always easy, but it's important for parents, teachers and other trusted adults to share what they know about the legal and health consequences of underage marijuana use."

Research shows many adults feel awkward, intimidated or unprepared to talk with youth about marijuana use, even though surveys show youth are less likely to use marijuana if they have trusted adults in their lives. The 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found if a parent believes underage marijuana use is wrong, their children are four times less likely to use marijuana. The survey also found youth who have teachers who care, families with clear rules or parents willing to help their children are nearly twice as likely to not use marijuana.

The trusted adults campaign has the same friendly, educational tone as other health department Good To Know Colorado efforts. The tools and tips for trusted adults are at Information and resources on the website include:

*Tips on how to talk with youth at different ages.

*Tips for teachers and coaches to speak with the youth they serve.

*Information on the legal consequences of using retail marijuana before age 21, including Minor in Possession charges, loss of financial aid or employment, and removal from sports teams or extracurricular activities.

*Information on the health effects of using retail marijuana before age 21, including difficulty learning, memory issues, negative impacts on athletic performance and impaired judgment.

"Our research shows underage marijuana use can impair brain development and keep Colorado kids from reaching their potential," said Dr. Larry Wolk, health department executive director and chief medical officer. "We also know parents and other trusted adults can make a big difference in whether young people choose to use marijuana."

Messages in both English and Spanish will appear on TV, radio, digital and social channels, as well as through content partnerships and community outreach across the state throughout the year. It includes ads during primetime and Denver Broncos games. 

To answer questions trusted adults may have about retail marijuana and underage use, the department gathered a panel of experts for a CBS Denver round table on Comcast channel 240 and @CBSDenver on Facebook live on Oct. 12. Content also will be featured on Good To Know Colorado's  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter sites. 

The Retail Marijuana Education Program is paid for with $7 million in marijuana tax revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Projects include Good to Know, youth prevention efforts and the Spanish-language campaign, Marihuana En Colorado, Lo Que Debes Entender.