Health Canada recently launched the Pursue Your Passion campaign, an interactive exhibit designed to educate and encourage youth to pursue healthy activities rather than use cannabis.
“I am pleased to launch the Pursue Your Passion interactive engagement tour,” the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in a press release.
“This tour builds on the national dialogue on cannabis health impacts that we started more than a year ago. This initiative is one of many public education efforts underway and provides an important opportunity to educate youth and young adults directly as we prepare for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada.”
Young Canadians can engage with brand ambassadors and interactive stations at local events, festivals, and fairs across the country to learn about the health impacts of cannabis and seek out drug-free activities.
While Health Canada’s abstinence approach is less abrasive than the PSAs of yesteryear, it fails to create an inclusive conversation.
“Completely absent from this conversation is the fact that a lot of young people use cannabis and don’t develop problematic use or adverse effects,” Kira London-Nadeau, a Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) board member and masters student in psychology at the University of Montreal, told Daily Hive over the phone.
“We know young people are going to use cannabis but in terms of giving them tools to use in a safe way, they don’t get that when we just say ‘don’t use drugs.'”
London-Nadeau acknowledges Health Canada’s difficult position in trying to create policies on such a divisive issue. She also notes that their approach is a step in the right direction in terms of youth drug education.
“Even though the campaign that they’re running promotes abstinence, I do think that it’s different from approaches that we’ve seen so far regarding drug use.”
“Health Canada is trying to show alternatives and an adaptive way of saying no to cannabis. In terms of the delivery and content of the message, that’s an important distinction between the traditional ‘just say no’ approach.”
Earlier this year, the CSSDP released a comprehensive toolkit that provides evidence-based education “inclusive of both prevention and harm reduction to maximize effectiveness and protect all youth.”