Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jul 2016
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2016 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Hannah Golden


State Hopes to Prevent and Delay Usage by Underage People

Less than two years after recreational marijuana was legalized in the 
state, the Oregon Healthy Authority is launching a program to 
dissuade young residents from using it. The message: Marijuana can 
affect brain development, impair abilities and jeopardize people's 
health and careers.

The OHA is piloting the campaign in Medford and Portland using web 
ads, streaming radio and TV and Facebook ads. It's being funded with 
$4 million allocated by the Legislature in this year's session to 
help prevent marijuana use among youth, according to Kati Moseley, 
policy specialist with the OHA Public Health Division.

The campaign is not directed toward Oregon Medical Marijuana Program 
users, but rather at youths who use pot recreationally. The state is 
tracking both attitudes and usage rates among young Oregonians 
before, during and after legalization.

Campaign organizers consulted with focus groups in metro and rural 
populations to find core messages that would be "believable and 
convincing" to young people, Moseley said.

The campaign promotes the idea that most students don't use marijuana 
and calls on youth to set a good example for their younger siblings.

It also warns that using marijuana can jeopardize everything from 
driver's licenses to school performance and jobs.

The 2015 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, published in February by the 
OHA, shows that marijuana usage among eighth- and 11th-graders in 
Oregon decreased slightly in the last several years, holding 
consistent with national figures. In 2011, 11 percent of 
eighth-graders and 25 percent of 11th-graders reported using the drug 
in the past 30 days, compared with 9 and 19 percent, respectively, in 2015.

Smoking, the overwhelming method of using pot among Oregon youth, has 
long-term consequences, said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, a state health 
officer for the OHA Public Health Division.

"Inhaling any particulate matter in your lungs is not good," she said.

Hedberg noted that one goal of the campaign is to address and track 
prevailing attitudes about the drug.

"When things are legal, it does change a social norm," she said. 
"It's still illegal under the age of 21."

Hedberg said the majority of underage Oregonians using marijuana are 
not doing so for medical purposes.

"There may be conditions that medical marijuana helps, but there's a 
number of conditions that it triggers," Hedberg said.

Though many people seek the drug to calm down, she said it can cause 
some to feel anxious. She listed anxiety, paranoia and other 
psychoactive effects, heart rate increase, severe vomiting, cognitive 
interference and impaired reaction time as potential medical 
consequences of marijuana consumption.

The brain isn't fully developed until the mid-to late-20s, Hedberg 
said, and emotional and social developments are still in process when 
most youths graduate from high school.

The campaign is viewable at:
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom