A little over a year since Denver launched its High Costs youth education campaign, a survey released this week indicates that the program has been a success. Of the students that have heard of High Costs, which teaches about the consequences of adolescent marijuana use, 75 percent say it has discouraged them from using cannabis.
High Costs was launched by the city and county of Denver, using tax revenue generated by retail cannabis sales. Denver commissioned the research from Insight Labs to test the effectiveness of the program, which utilizes creative strategies to teach kids facts around early marijuana use instead of old-school scare tactics.
High Costs emphasizes placing those facts in contexts familiar to adolescents, ranging from social media campaigns, an online game show called “Weeded Out,” school bus signage, and digital radio.
“Teens want facts and they want to be able to make their own decisions,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “When we give teens the facts and equip them with knowledge, they make smarter choices about using marijuana.”
The survey ran from mid-November to mid-December of last year, and involved 502 teenagers to represent Denver’s youth population. According the research, 78 percent of teens were familiar with the High Costs program while 83 percent of teenagers believed it was educational and contained clear messaging. To build upon this success, the report recommended High Costs continue to grow its online footprint while devising nontraditional marketing strategies, like product giveaways.
In addition, the survey found that 18 percent of Denver teenagers currently use marijuana, with 1 percent admitting to daily use. These users were more dubious of the High Costs campaign and were less likely to spread the messaging.
“This audience is going to be difficult to reach, as they’ve already decided to use and naturally are going to reject information that contradicts their decision,” the report says. “For now, focus on the core audience of non-users and past-users, and evaluate the opportunity to target this segment again in a year.”