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While the opioid epidemic grabs headlines, it’s helpful to note that marijuana is the drug most used by young people. And although 7 of 10 young people believe occasional marijuana smoking isn’t harmful, the fact is that adolescents’ continued use of marijuana can impact brain development and lead to poorer mental and physical health, lower life satisfaction, and more relationship problems.
Realizing that young people probably won’t listen to adults’ warnings about the dangers of smoking marijuana while your adolescent brain is still developing, the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (MCSAP) decided to allow young people speak directly to their peers.
The result is Let’s Be Blunt, a campaign for youth, by youth.
This month, the second Let’s Be Blunt campaign launched on social media with the hashtags #noneedforweed and #letsbeblunt and on Milwaukee County Transit System buses.
The messages were brainstormed by young people in April at the MSCAP Youth Summit, then the most popular images were refined into professionally crafted graphics.
MCSAP’s current Let’s Be Blunt initiative builds on its inaugural 2015 campaign to engage youth in voicing their concerns about the damage marijuana can do to young people and how they can create positive alternatives to using drugs.
“We’re thrilled that so many young people are getting involved in preventing their peers from using marijuana,” said Kasaundra Brown, MCSAP Coordinator. “This truly is a campaign for youth, by youth.”
The youth-created graphics and messages highlight marijuana’s negative impact on a young person’s developing brain, goal-setting, and ability to make one’s own decisions while encouraging young people to live free of drugs.
Research shows that youth typically start experimenting with drugs like marijuana around the ages of 12 to 13, yet more than 7 out of 10 young people don’t perceive smoking marijuana to be risky. The Youth Summit attendees suggested using social media as one of the most effective vehicles to reach them and their peers.
“Young people who start using marijuana as teenagers need to know how this behavior impacts them long term. How drug use may affect how their brain, their thinking, memory, and learning functions,” said Kari Lerch, Deputy Director, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. “We must continue to push positive messages to young people, to educate and inform them on how to live their best lives, free of all drugs.”
Posted Sep 12, 2017
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