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Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

'Cannabis Conversations' is New York's first public education campaign on cannabis


Mon, Apr 4th 2022 02:35 pm

Campaign builds on Office of Cannabis Management's first public outreach effort conducted earlier this year through virtual 'Cannabis Conversations'

√ Public health campaign informs New Yorkers about state's new cannabis law

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced "Cannabis Conversations," New York state's first public health education campaign on cannabis to inform the public on the state's cannabis law, including who can consume, where to consume, and how to consume safely.

The governor’s team said, “This campaign will provide parents and caregivers with tools to protect youth, remind New Yorkers of the risks of driving while impaired by cannabis, and other messages to help keep New Yorkers safe and healthy as the new industry develops. These messages will be distributed in English and Spanish through public service advertisements on television, radio, transit, billboards and social media.”

Hochul said, "With the 'Cannabis Conversations' campaign, we're following through on our commitment to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to safely navigate the new cannabis law. Education is the best tool to keep New Yorkers healthy as we continue to ramp up this safe, inclusive and equitable industry."

Public service advertisements for the "Cannabis Conversations" campaign will run for approximately three months. Today's launch is centered on a 30-second, overarching message that highlights New York state legalizing cannabis, but only for adults 21 years old and over; not driving under the influence; keeping second-hand cannabis smoke away from other people; locking up cannabis and storing it out of reach of children and pets. As part of the campaign, additional messages will be introduced in the future to reinforce and expand on these concepts.

The campaign builds on the Office of Cannabis Management's first public-outreach effort, also called "Cannabis Conversations," where the OCM held virtual outreach sessions in 10 regions across New York and an 11th session in Spanish.

Hochul’s’ team said, “New York's cannabis law focuses on public health and is grounded in the principles of public safety, social justice, and equitable economic development designed to help undo the harm caused by cannabis prohibition. As part of this public policy shift, the law requires public health education campaigns that inform New Yorkers of the new law and the impact of cannabis use on public health and safety.”

Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said, " 'Cannabis Conversations' is our first public health campaign as we make sure New Yorkers have the initial information they need to stay safe and healthy. We have learned from other states and are excited to amplify these important messages across the state. Meanwhile, we're hard at work building this new industry, and as it continues to evolve, so, too, will our public education efforts with future campaigns tackling a growing range of health and safety messaging."

Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management Chris Alexander said, "Our first public health education campaign, 'Cannabis Conversations,' will give New Yorkers the information they need to start talking about our state's cannabis law and the health and safety implications for consuming cannabis. This fact-based campaign reflects the change in how we're approaching cannabis as we focus on evidence-based education over prosecution."

The "Cannabis Conversations" campaign was developed by the Office of Cannabis Management following a review of education campaigns operated by other states’ legalized adult-use cannabis before New York, and in partnership with the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Department of Health, and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "The new 'Cannabis Conversations' campaign provides people with the facts and educates them about the new law. As cannabis becomes more widely available as a legal recreational product, its safe use is an important message."

Commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, "It's important that New Yorkers have the key information provided by 'Cannabis Conversations' and is part of the necessary shift as we move from criminalization to a place of being able to educate the public. I encourage New Yorkers to take the next step and follow the campaign back to cannabis.ny.gov where they have access to more information and resources to help keep themselves healthy."

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "Keeping our roads safe is our top-priority, and we're proud to partner with the Office of Cannabis Management to make sure New Yorkers know that, if they drive high, they're putting lives at risk and could get arrested for driving while ability impaired by drugs. We look forward to continuing to build on today's launch of 'Cannabis Conversations' and help protect the safety of our roads."

Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulators Association Gillian Schauer Ph.D., said, "Educating the public about new cannabis laws is important, as there can be misperceptions about what's legal. New York's 'Cannabis Conversations' campaign is a creative approach to help New Yorkers learn more about the state's new law legalizing cannabis for adults, and the campaign can spark valuable conversations about how to stay safe and healthy. In addition to hearing from New Yorkers directly, the Office of Cannabis Management worked with CANNRA and other states to fully understand lessons learned from prior cannabis-focused campaigns, which makes this an even stronger campaign.

CHES Executive Director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials Sarah Ravenhall, MHA, said, "It's encouraging to see that Gov. Hochul and the Office of Cannabis Management are taking public health and health equity very seriously, as the adult use cannabis program is readied for full implementation. There are health risks associated with cannabis use that require sound policy to mitigate, and the governor's 'Cannabis Conversations' campaign is a clear indication that this administration supports a thoughtful and careful approach to cannabis policy. We look forward to working with the state to monitor the program's public health impact and to continue to find new ways to ensure New York has the safest program possible."

Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Kassandra Frederique said, "It is essential for New York's ‘Cannabis Conversation’ campaign to establish statewide literacy of our new cannabis policy. New Yorkers have experienced decades of prohibition, disparate enforcement, and with increasing intensity misinformation. The Office of Cannabis Management was created to serve as a central hub for cannabis policy and information. It is our hope that this is only the beginning of the state's robust public education that not only teaches people what the law is, but includes considerations around consumption, how to become an entrepreneur, and where to get help if you need it."

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