Boulder Valley Schools Won’t Allow Rat Cages for Anti-Cannabis Campaign

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The state of Colorado’s ill-advised anti-cannabis campaign has been rejected by Boulder area schools.  For those who aren’t familiar, the program is basically an aggressive advertising campaign targeting teens. Funded by the Department of Health and several other state organizations, this $2 million advertising campaign is meant to deter teens from experimenting with cannabis by placing large human-sized cages in public spaces, complete with water bottles.

The point of these cages? To dramatically warn teens that using cannabis could affect their brains in as-of-yet unknown ways, according to the “Don’t Be a Lab Rat” campaign site.

Is Mother Nature’s miracle plant as harmless as most teens think? Maybe not. In fact, many early studies have shown the exact opposite. Scientists from Duke to Cambridge have uncovered a laundry list of troubling side effects.

Schizophrenia. Permanent IQ loss. Stunted brain growth.

Still, some people question this research. Claiming the studies need to go deeper. Look further. But who will be their guinea pigs?

Who’s going to risk their brains to find out once and for all what marijuana really does?

Don’t be a lab rat.

This campaign, of course, has been mocked by both adults and teens as ridiculous. One of the giant rat cages in Denver was vandalized earlier this month on the same day it was placed in a skate park. But that isn’t the reason Boulder’s school district is rejecting the program.

The school’s communication director, Briggs Gamblin, explained to Boulder Weekly the reasoning behind the decision.

We don’t see human-scale rat cages as something that’s going to be seen as a positive or intelligent way to approach young people…We worry about some of the messages and possible links to schizophrenia and that how they are worded could feed into stereotypes, especially since that is a time when peer approval is so important. We do share the view that 12- to 15-year-olds shouldn’t be using marijuana, and it’s not allowed on school property.

They’re worried that the rat cages could stigmatize some of their student body who struggle with mental illness. That’s right; a high school administration made a drug policy decision from a place of compassion for their student body.

Here’s hoping that idea will spread as quickly as these propaganda campaigns. While deterring teen drug use is important, stigmatizing those who struggle with mental health issues is not the way to go about it.


For more Ladybud coverage of anti-cannabis propaganda, click here!