Now that New York lawmakers have legalized cannabis, state regulators are seeking help in their forthcoming efforts to educate New Yorkers about safe consumption.
Specifically, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has released a request for information aimed at entities that have created and implemented “large-scale public education campaigns” and could help the office launch a statewide campaign “to educate New York residents about safe, legal, and responsible use of cannabis, and to prevent cannabis use in persons who are under the age of 21 years old.”
It’s not a request for proposals, but rather, regulators want to know “about novel approaches and specific qualifications that may be needed to develop and implement each [of] the above campaigns, as well as any relevant considerations for the timeline and the costs.”
New York lawmakers voted to legalize this March after years of trying to get a bill across the finish line. Today, 18 states have legalized cannabis use and sales for adults, and OCM is seeking input from those with expertise on cannabis education, or on public health or education more broadly, to answer its questions, including:
• “What are effective yet cost efficient ways to conduct formative work with the targeted campaign populations?
• What are approaches that can be used to ensure that hard-to-reach or at-risk populations are included informative work for the campaign(s)?
• How best to ensure a diversity of the population identifies within the targeted campaigns? With communications inclusive of, but not limited to, economic, cultural identity, level of education, age, race, gender identity, and nationality.
• What approaches can be used in creating content to maximize effects on social and digital media?
• What resources and materials should be created for local, community, and clinician groups to be able to leverage and promote campaign messages?
• What novel approaches can be used to drive earned media around the aforementioned campaigns?
• How can outside evaluation data be utilized to quickly evolve campaign messages to maximize impacts on the desired behavior(s).”
New York’s forthcoming campaigns will be focused on educating residents and visitors about what’s legal, and what’s not, and harms of youth use and use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Additionally, the campaign will specifically seek to educate about why consumers should avoid the long-existing unregulated market and instead “purchase legal cannabis (vs.from the illicit market).”
Other states have laid tracks for public education around cannabis consumption, and these campaigns have become more sophisticated since Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize in 2012.
For example, Denver, Colorado’s High Costs campaign, one of the first such post-legalization education campaigns, sought to educate teens about possible harms associated with cannabis use. A 2020 survey of 537 Colorado teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 showed that the years-long campaign was working to dissuade youths from cannabis consumption.
California’s “Let’s Talk Cannabis” health information and education campaign was launched in 2017, the year after voters legalized cannabis for adult use, to inform consumers about what was legal and illegal post-legalization. The campaign had several areas of focus, which included the reasoning for setting the legal consumption age at 21, and potential harms of using cannabis and cannabis products while breastfeeding. And, in an effort to curb unlicensed sales, California also launched a campaign in 2019 called “Get #WeedWise” that encouraged consumers “to only purchase cannabis from licensed businesses.”
Proposals must be submitted by June 17.