Quebec health ministry launches risk awareness campaign on cannabis

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No, it’s not Reefer Madness, the 1936 propaganda film put out by the U.S. government warning of the perils of smoking pot.

But on Monday, the Quebec government launched its own awareness campaign — featuring hallucinatory images intended to elicit laughs — highlighting the risks of cannabis consumption among young Quebecers.

Under the $1.5-million campaign, the government will run ads in French and English in movie theatres and on television and radio, as well as on the internet. The ads will be aimed at two demographic groups: 15- to 17-year- olds and 18- to 34-year-olds.

The government hasn’t yet shown any of the English-language ads. A web link to the campaign in English displays an image of a young man with his neck stretched like a giraffe’s, accompanied by the tag line: “There’s no way cannabis can do this. But the risks are real.”

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“Our government is committed to making every effort to better protect the public, especially teenagers and young adults, from the harmful effects of cannabis,” Lionel Carmant, junior minister for health and social services, said in a statement.

Young people are more vulnerable to the real risks of cannabis, although it is now legal.”

“The campaign has been designed to better reach this clientele. Young people are more vulnerable to the real risks of cannabis, although it is now legal. Thus, we take effective means to counter the banalization of cannabis and to make our young people more aware of the risks they run when they consume it. ”

Although Ottawa legalized the recreational use of marijuana on Oct. 17, 2018, medical associations across the country have raised health concerns about pot consumption.

And since the Coalition Avenir Québec formed a majority government on Oct. 1, it has tabled Bill 2 raising the cannabis consumption age from 18 set by Ottawa to 21.

The Quebec awareness campaign will focus on four potential dangers: growing dependent on cannabis; the potential risk to the developing brain; the risks associated with mental health; and the risks involved when mixing cannabis with other substances.

In one French-language ad, a young woman enters a friend’s house and takes off her toque to reveal a semi-bald head with pigtails. As her friend stares at her, the woman says, “I took too much pot.”

“Ah,” her friend responds. An announcer then adds: “It’s impossible for cannabis to do this, but before the age of 25, it can harm the development of your brain.”

The campaign comes after the province’s poison-control centre reported a tripling in the number of marijuana poisonings since the drug was legalized last fall.

However, Carmant’s press attaché, Maude Méthot-Faniel, said the campaign was well in the planning stages before the the poison-control centre released its latest statistics.

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