The "Protect What's Next" video campaign, funded by Colorado state taxes on recreational cannabis, attempts to tackle an age-old problem: persuading kids getting high isn't fun.
But in a pro-420 state, an abstinence-based message doesn't exactly fly. Instead, this campaign is trying to convince kids simply to hold off smoking until their brains are fully developed at age 25.
The commercials show kids experiencing feel-good moments: passing a driver's test, finally landing a sweet skateboard trick, helping Little Brother with homework. The 15-second spots wrap up with the tagline "don't let marijuana get in the way of [insert positive noun]:" guidance, determination, freedom, goals, etc.
While theres a body of research to suggest adolescent marijuana use can cause mental health issues, teens might mock the idea that marijuana could affect their ability to text people and ask them for a date or get a job as a mechanic.
The spots are infinitely less terrifying than the Evergreen State's 2014 "Don't Be a Lab Rat" campaign, in which 12-by-8-foot human-sized rat cages were installed at skate parks and schools with signs warning kids about schizophrenia and permanent IQ loss. The city of Boulder rejected the installations amid concerns about comparing teens to rats, potentially stigmatizing people suffering from mental health issues, and returning to retro War on Drugs scare tactics.
The message of the ad campaign reflects a bigger question raised by legal weed: namely, how parents and lawmakers can successfully discourage kids from using marijuana before adults think they're ready, while still condoning it for themselves.