In an effort to prevent tweens and teens from using marijuana, local teenagers have launched a digital public education campaign in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The series of videos, which includes music videos and roundtable talks with “influencers,” provides information from trusted sources and peers about the dangers of using marijuana before the legal age of 21.
Currently, about one-in-six teens in Los Angeles County are considered frequent users of marijuana, according to public health officials.
By using (the hashtag) #BiggerChoices and a variety of other mediums commonly utilized by teens in the SCV, the new social media-based campaign aims to establish a culture of making “bigger choices.”
Researchers are still studying the effects of marijuana and whether or not they are permanent, officials said. Long-term health effects when using marijuana at a young age include impaired thinking, memory and learning functions.
“As cannabis becomes more widely available in our communities, we have a duty to make sure that younger people understand the harmful effects it can have on their developing brains,” said Sachi Hamai, Los Angeles County CEO. “And the way to spread the word is by connecting with them—peer to peer—in the digital spaces where they interact with each other.”
As a result, Director Barbara Ferrer said it was important for the DPH to involve young people to the greatest extent possible.
“We’re reaching teens exactly where they are: on social media,” she explained. “Our end goal is to provide teens with the facts and resources they need to make the best decision for themselves.”
Addiction specialist and local media celebrity, Dr. Drew Pinksy is one resource featured in the media campaign. His discussion sessions include local teenagers and are currently available via Entercom radio stations, including KROQ.
The public education campaign will run through Nov. 2018 and is expected to generate more than 30 million impressions online.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said, “I’m inspired by these young leaders who have taken the initiative to express to their peers just how important it is to avoid marijuana and make bigger and better decisions for their health and their future.”