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Following news that provincial poison control centres have seen three times as many excessive-cannabis cases since legalization, Quebec launched a $1.5M campaign to warn about cannabis that will run ads in movie theatres, TV, radio, and online. Aimed at 15- to-35-year-olds, the ads are nonsensical and bizarre in a bid to attract attention. GrowthOp, Montreal Gazette
- The new ads display images of things “there’s no way cannabis can do—but the risks are real.” Things cannabis can’t do, according to the Quebec government, include causing people to lose all their hair (possibly a reference to beloved/nightmarish classic Quebec kids’ film The Peanut Butter Solution), ears to grow from the tops of people’s heads, cascades of hair to sprout out of their eyesockets, and growing giraffe-like necks. Youtube, The Leaf
- Social media immediately took note of the ads. Twitter—Amanda Seibert,
- GrowthOp reporter Emma Spears described the ads as “batshit insane,” and noted in her article the campaign already contains outdated information. Twitter—Emma Spears, GrowthOp
- Burnstown Farms CEO Mark Spear compared the ads with Quebec’s alcohol-awareness campaign for teens, which is fact-based, harm-reductive, not at all nightmarish, and acknowledges that “Just like your parents, you and your friends drink alcohol to have fun and enhance your time together.” Twitter—Mark Spear
- One Twitter respondent said, “This is either a terrible ad campaign, or a campaign aimed specifically at graphic designers and ad executives who smoke too much weed.”
- Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Concordia University chapter tweeted, “Quebec somehow managed to make the least informative cannabis risk advertisements. What are the risks and benefits? and how can we consume safely? That’s what our government needs to focus on” Twitter
- Degrassi-star turned public health professor Rebecca Haines-Saah dismissed the ads’ outlandish images as a relic of earlier, failed approaches to drug education, telling the Leaf, “”Maybe a nine year old (or) ten year old would see this ad and prompt a discussion, but I think actual teenagers in that fifteen to nineteen category are just going to tune this out.”
- CSSDP chair Kira London-Nadeau contrasted the slogan of Montreal harm reduction organization Psychosocial Research and Intervention Group Montreal–“If you choose to use, choose to know”–with the Quebec government’s cannabis slogan, “It’s not worth the risk.” Twitter—Kira London-Nadeau
- Université de Montréal psychology professor and addictions researcher Jean-Sébastien Fallu argued the Quebec cannabis education slogan, “It’s not worth the risk,” is paternalistic. He interpreted it to mean, “You’re not intelligent enough to make your own assessments and decisions, I know better than you what’s good for you, I want your good, and will have it, against your will.” Twitter—Jean-Sébastien Fallu