Marijuana

Marijuana: Health Department's Education Campaign Mainly About the Law

This past August, the State of Colorado launched the "Don't Be a Lab Rat" anti-pot campaign to bad reviews and widespread derision. Now, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is trying its hand at educating the public with "Good to Know," a messaging blitz that employs considerably less divisive imagery. Strangely, though, the majority of material shared on its website thus far is less about health than what is and isn't legal.

See also: Anti-Pot "Don't Be a Lab Rat" Campaign Uses Disputed Facts That Might Be True

The "Don't Be a Lab Rat" campaign was rolled out under the auspices of Sukle Advertising & Design, and its focus was on the damage marijuana is thought to do to the brains of young users. In an August post, however, the agency's Mike Sukle conceded that "the whole science of developing brains and the effects marijuana has is in its infancy. While there's a pretty good set of research, a lot of people dispute it. They don't believe it. So we wanted to be very honest and straight-forward -- to say, 'Here's a study, people dispute it, but do you really want to take that chance? Don't be a lab rat. People are going to be watching you to either prove or disprove these studies.'"

The result were images like this one...

...and this one.... ...as well as physical cages that were placed in locations such as Denver Central Library and Red Rocks concerts starring Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Jack White.

But the displays quickly became controversial laughingstocks that the City of Boulder refused to display -- a decision that pleased one marijuana advocate, who saw them as racist.

The Good to Know campaign, put together by a different ad agency (Cactus), avoids such pitfalls by taking a softer-sell approach to the handful of images shared to date; there are several on the main website, but very little content thus far on accompanying Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Despite being produced under the auspices of the CDPHE, however, health is only occasionally a topic.

Continue to for about the "Good to Know" marijuana education campaign, including multiple images.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

Latest Stories