The Canadian government is planning to launch an ad campaign warning youth about the dangers of driving while high.

Public Safety Canada is currently seeking a creative agency to develop the $1.9-million campaign, which will be released before cannabis is legalized across the country next July.

Officials hope the ads will "reduce [the] percentage of Canadians that say they would be likely to accept a ride from someone under the influence of marijuana."

The target audience for the multimedia campaign is Canadians between the ages of 16 and 24.

A smaller video campaign rolled out by Public Safety Canada earlier this year expressed support for a pilot project involving new roadside devices for testing drivers’ oral fluids. "Consuming marijuana doubles your chance of a car accident," cautioned one of the videos.

The new campaign comes in the wake of public opinion polling from last year, which found that more than a quarter of Canadians have driven under the influence of cannabis at least once. The Health Canada-commissioned poll also found more than a third of those surveyed reported having been a passenger in a car driven by someone using cannabis.

Other Canadian organizations have recently introduced similar ads, including the Canadian Automobile Association, Drug Free Kids Canada and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

MADD CEO Andrew Murie said the timing was right for the government’s ad campaign. The group recently made some changes to its own impaired-driving campaigns – which have always focused on alcohol – by producing three cannabis-related public-service ads.  

Last November, a panel advising the Canadian government on legalization called for research into intoxication levels, screening devices, new penalties and better enforcement.

Its first recommendation, however, was “a robust and ongoing national public education campaign [that] requires proper funding and implementation as soon as possible, prior to legalization.

"Furthermore, the public education campaign needs a special focus on youth to dispel the myth that cannabis use leads to better driving."

h/t CBC News