AHCCCS Statewide Primary Prevention Marijuana Misuse and Abuse Campaign

In 2016, nearly 52% of Arizona voters just said “no” to legalizing weed for recreational use. Four years later, about 60% voted “yes.” With attitudes, availability, – and among many adults, enthusiasm – for cannabis changing so rapidly, Arizona health officials feared that emerging data about its harmful effects on young people might get lost in the haze.

RIESTER’s primary research with adult audiences revealed that many parents held perceptions about weed that had become quite obsolete. Most were unaware of recent findings regarding cannabis and brain development, and many weren’t even familiar with contemporary slang, delivery methods – or with the fact that marijuana has become significantly more potent in the years since they were teens.

For both kids and parents, the drastic changes to the culture surrounding cannabis necessitated an equally drastic change in the way we talk about it. This campaign has helped AHCCS encourage more caution about trying it among kids, while giving parents the tools they need to have frank, relevant conversations about it.

Studies show that cannabis can do lasting damage to minds under age 25. So RIESTER presented the facts – citing the actual scientific papers – in ways that were accessible, yet still respectful of kids’ intelligence and desire to make their own choices.

RIESTER has 30+ years of experience in youth smoking and vaping prevention. But perhaps the most important insight we leveraged for this campaign was something every parent already knows – that kids just want to be treated like adults.