Health Canada’s anti-marijuana campaign was little more than a poorly disguised political ploy.
The Conservative government’s 12-week advertising campaign launched in October and cost over $7 million — significantly more than what Health Canada has spent advertising other health and safety issues.
One ad claims that “the science is clear” on the dangers of cannabis use, but the information presented is anything but. The ads displayed a lack of genuine concern for the health and safety of Canadians.
The “facts” presented in the ad — that cannabis use can result in decreased IQ, learning problems and loss of memory in teenagers — were premised on a study that has been widely contested by researchers.
Despite this, the campaign was released because of the strong reaction it received from a focus group of parents, who were described by the interviewers as “generally uninformed regarding marijuana health risks”.
This cherry picked and misleading information preyed on the fears of “uninformed” parents, who understandably wouldn’t be critical of Health Canada as a source of information.
The timing of the campaign can’t be overlooked, with a federal election slated for no later than this October.
Health Canada’s anti-marijuana campaign ran parallel to a Conservative-funded radio campaign that attacked Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau for his endorsement of the legalization of marijuana.
The campaign’s intended audience was parent-age adults — the demographic most likely to vote, but not to use marijuana.
There’s little point in targeting a parent audience unless it’s to explain how to talk to their children about drug use, which the ad didn’t do.
While $7 million isn’t much considering the general costs of widespread ad campaigns, it was $7 million of taxpayer money that did nothing to benefit Canadians. It was instead a gross abuse of power on the part of the Conservative government, as they dipped into the government’s purse to fuel their campaign.
There are far more pressing health and safety issues facing Canadians that an informative campaign could help alleviate, including alcoholism, malnutrition and domestic violence. It’s concerning that Health Canada instead went big on slagging marijuana.
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