Even though Recreational adult-use marijuana has been legal in New York State since 2019, the Empire State has been sitting in the back of the class, quietly watching as older legal states roll out education campaigns.
As newer legal states have jumped the gun and rolled out cannabis education campaigns that aren’t yet fully realized, New York has taken notes, and taken the time to put together a campaign that is well-thought-out and encompasses the good of the older states’ campaigns, as well as fixes the bad of the campaigns rolled out by the newer states.
New York’s Cannabis Education Program
The Office of Cannabis Management launched their program on April 4th, called Cannabis Conversations, in which they aim to educate the public on all things pertaining to recreational adult-use marijuana. Denizens of New York will soon find themselves face to face with topics such as who can consume cannabis, where it can be consumed, and how it can be done safely on TV and radio ads, social media, and public transit.
Chris Alexander, the Director of the Office of Cannabis Management said of the program, “Our first public health education campaign, ‘Cannabis Conversations,’ will give New Yorkers the information they need to start talking about our state’s cannabis law and the health and safety implications for consuming cannabis. This fact-based campaign reflects the change in how we’re approaching cannabis as we focus on evidence-based education over prosecution,” according to Cannabis Business Times.
On the Cannabis Conversations website, New Yorkers can find a bevy of information, such as general cannabis info, impaired driving, what’s legal and what isn’t, public use, health impacts, use among people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, social equity, youth use and safe storage, and an overview of the law.
The campaign, which will run for approximately three months, has already held 11 virtual events for community outreach from January to February 2022, according to a press release on the website. Hosted by Tremaine Wright, the Cannabis Control Chair, over 5,500 New Yorkers tuned into the sessions to learn about New York’s cannabis law, and have their questions answered.
Cannabis Conversations was developed after the Office of Cannabis Management reviewed past education campaigns and programs from states who legalized recreational adult-use marijuana prior to New York State.
Cannabis Education Campaigns From Other States
Some of the other states that have developed educational programs in relation to the legalization of recreational adult-use cannabis include Maine, Oregon, California, and Colorado.
Maine: Maine’s cannabis education program is called Good To Know, and offers less information than New York’s Cannabis Conversations does, opting to focus on discussing marijuana use with children and consumption while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, the website does have a dedicated fact sheet, called Things To Know, that talks briefly about things like accidental ingestion, bad reactions, and the risk of mixing substances such as marijuana and alcohol.
Oregon: The Beaver State’s campaign offers even less information than Maine’s and, in fact, the entire website is a single clickable infographic that ends with the disclaimer, “Some aspects of the law are still being determined.” Oregon’s campaign chooses to focus on the legality of cannabis, and it’s entitled What’s Legal Oregon.
California: California is currently running two education campaigns. The first campaign, called Get #weedwise, started running in 2019 and focuses on giving the public the information they need to buy their cannabis from licensed businesses while warning those that are unlicensed that they should obtain licenses. The second, entitled This Is California Cannabis, “is designed to promote the state’s legal cannabis cultivation market and raise awareness of the support and guidance offered to licensed cannabis growers by CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture,” says the website.
Colorado: Colorado’s marijuana education program is called Responsibility Grows Here, and focuses on responsible marijuana use for adult consumers, youth and marijuana, talking tips for trusted adults, and marijuana and pregnancy. The ads, which were posted to social media, as well as TV and radio ads, are aimed at residents and tourists of legal age, and feature the fictional Meg the Budtender, who answers questions pertaining to edibles, storage, and use.
Though it may have taken longer for New York State to put together their cannabis education campaign, Cannabis Conversations, it was done in such a way that they were able to take the good from past campaigns released by states who legalized recreational adult-use marijuana before New York did, as well as expand on and fix the bad information released in those campaigns.
Cannabis Conversations will undoubtedly become the go-to educational program for newly legalized states to look at prior to creating their own cannabis education campaigns.
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