“Don’t let a high hold you back.”
It may sound like a refrain from the days of Reefer Madness, but that message is the latest public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. According to the Detroit Free Press, the anti-cannabis alert is part of a $300,000 taxpayer ad campaign aimed at discouraging young people from getting into pot.
In one ad, a young cannabis user is playing video games and eating pizza when his very own ghost of stoner future arrives, 10 years older, three sizes larger, and styled as a classic middle-aged slacker. “Are you high? You smokin’ weed,” the older stoner asks. “I’m you in 10 years. No career. No friends. No money… “Marijuana messed with our brain, we can’t focus.”
In all of the state’s new anti-pot PSAs, the video ends with the same tagline, “Don’t let a high hold you back.”
But while past televised attempts to dissuade cannabis use have been aimed specifically at teenagers, a few recent PSAs have poked fun at the age old stigma, adding a pharmaceutical spin to weed’s delinquent reputation. In addition to recreational sales, which kicked off last month, Michigan has been home to a legal medical marijuana market for more than a decade.
“It’s an insult to us,” Tim Beck, one of the advocates responsible for Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law, told the Free Press. “It just keeps this idea that ‘you’re just a stoner and a loser’ on a subconscious level.”
Cannabis activists like Beck said that they were not opposed to messaging that dissuaded underage use, but instead, the current ads continue and demonize legal weed users for no reason other than outdated stigmas.
“Just do it in a more thoughtful way,” he said. “When you use these broad stereotypes that go back to the age of Reefer Madness, it just doesn’t work.”
The ads, which were funded with federal tax cash, are already playing on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Amazon, Spotify and other well-traveled digital airwaves.
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