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State pulls anti-marijuana ad amid backlash

Advocates say the ads are sending the wrong message to children and parents.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich — Anti-marijuana messages are nothing new, but the State of Michigan recently spent $300,000 dollars to air two public service announcements about the dangers of weed.

One of those ads has since been taken down but a second ad is still on the Michigan Health and Human Services YouTube page.

"I don't see how that message could be effective," Cannabiz Connection CEO, Jamie Cooper said. 

Cooper is a local leader in the cannabis industry.

"I'd be surprised if somebody watched that ad and thought 'oh my gosh, if I smoke marijuana, I'm going to be a complete loser,'" Cooper said.

The 30 second ad wasn't the only one released by Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services. The others have since been removed.

"It says 'Youth Anti Marijuana: Future Self' and within the ad, the actor said 'by consuming marijuana, you will have no friends, no money, no career,'" Cooper read.

That ad is no longer active on the website.

"That was a cop out, to just remove it like that and pretend it never happened," Cooper said. Although, she agrees that kids should not be smoking marijuana, but the execution of the message she says was poor.

"Our state took us a step back by delivering that kind of message," Cooper said. "It was pure reefer madness and it was not the message that should be sent especially when a majority of voters voted for recreational use."

She's concerned the message will also influence legitimate medical marijuana patients.

"Whether they're using it for autism or seizures, they are using it effectively to treat their medical conditions, they're not using it recreationally. And I don't want people to believe that it cannot be beneficial for a child that might need it," Cooper said.

She says the message needs to be focused on communication and education.

"I think there needs to be more time spent on helping parents understand how to have that conversation with their children. Because I think if they are having those conversations with their children, it would go a lot further," Cooper said.

"It needs to be more about consumption responsibility, parent responsibility, something like that, not anti-marijuana. We're well beyond that at this point."

A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement, “The goal of this federally funded media campaign is to address a problem that is well-documented among youth. We’re currently rethinking how to craft the most effective messaging possible for this campaign.”

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