Pubdate: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Sun Media
Author: Elliot Ferguson
Page: A1


University students develop campaigns to educate high school students
about cannabis

Three teams of Queen's University students have put together a series
of marketing campaigns to educate high school pupils about cannabis.

The legalization of cannabis is set for July 1, and students of
psychiatry professor Oyedeji Ayonrinde and business professor
John-Kurt Pliniussen developed ways to give high school-age young
people some of the information they need to make informed decisions.

The campaigns were developed by students working in teams, and their
messages were delivered through social media to reach the younger audience.

"That's really exciting and for me that is where the challenge lies,"
Ayonrinde, who in addition to psychiatry has a background in business,

"We know young people, and we've all been young ourselves, synthesize
information in different ways."

Ayonrinde said the Canada's changing position on cannabis has been
accompanied by very strong positive messages about the drug.

What he said has been largely absent from the debate about
recreational use is discussion about its impact on the health of young

"We are in a very unique position, actually a social phenomenon, where
you have a psychoactive substance that is now medicinally available,
therefore is good for you, it can treat illnesses, and is at the
point, through legislation, of being made available for recreational
use," he said. "The concern is about young people with developing
brains, and the evidence is that young people with developing brains
have significantly increased risk of developing psychosis," he said.
"The brain keeps developing for many people up to age 25, and if you
want to liken the brain to being like a fresh egg, you can do a lot
more damage to a fresh egg than a boiled egg, which is the mature brain."

The Queen's students worked in teams called Disjointed, Legit Services
and Project Flux to create a short YouTube video and a written report
about their experiences.

The groups were encouraged to use local landmarks and identities to
reach local youth.

The Project Flux group created an Instagram campaign called "We all
know a Rachael," which followed the experiences of a fictitious
17-year-old girl with cannabis.

Legit Services's "What's Your High" presented activities that provided
natural highs as alternatives to drugs.

Disjointed presented interviews with people from the university about
their experiences and opinions about marijuana.

The students' work is meant to provide a counter to what Ayonrinde
described as slick, well-funded marketing campaigns being delivered in
very sophisticated ways to sell cannabis in a variety of forms,
including pre-rolled joints, cannabis-infused drinks, chocolates,
candy and sprays.

"There is a lot more to marijuana than smoke," he said.

In many cases, the advertising campaigns are delivered with accurate
medical information.

Ayonrinde said young people need to be educated on what all the
information means.

"The term marijuana or cannabis is just like saying dog. It doesn't
tell us that much," he said. "It's really important with cannabis
literacy, it's really important to know what breed of dog, because
it's a whole world of difference. What we are most concerned about is
the chemical compound in marijuana called THC."

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principal psychoactive
constituent of cannabis. Different strains of cannabis have different
amounts of THC: the higher the THC level, the more potent the cannabis.

The flip side of THC is CBD, cannabidiol, which has been shown to have
antipsychotic properties.

"THC is like the attack dog, or the dog on the leash. CBD is the
leash," Ayonrinde said. "But you've got to know what breed."

More sophisticated young people are starting to talk about cannabis in
terms of the ratio to THC and CBD, and Ayonrinde said enabling that
level of discussion should be the goal of cannabis education.

"That is really knowing your product," Ayonrinde said.
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