An innovative new online awareness campaign, incorporating Facebook, a design competition and online videos around the risks associated with cannabis use for young Victorians has been launched by the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge.
The campaign is a joint initiative between the Australian Drug Foundation and the Victorian Department of Health and will ensure that young people between the ages of 13 and 18 and their parents are better informed on the health impacts of cannabis use.
"The purpose of the competition is to engage young people in considering healthy and safe ways of having fun and feeling good, rather than risking their health through the use of cannabis," Ms Wooldridge said.
"It is no coincidence that this campaign comes during Mental Health week. The impact that cannabis use can have on young people’s mental health can be devastating. Unfortunately we see all too often young people who start using cannabis early in life lose motivation, lose directions, lose friendships, and lose sight of their dreams.
"For young people, there is a greater likelihood of developing a mental health problem such as depression, psychosis and anxiety if they start using cannabis early in life and use at high levels.
"In 2010 cannabis was the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. Cannabis has been used at least once by one-third of all Australians aged 14 years or older.
"While 8.8 per cent of teenagers aged 12 to 17 had used cannabis between 2009 and 2010, that proportion doubled to 21.3 per cent for those aged 18 to 29 years. It is vital that we raise awareness in that younger group now to reduce use in future,” Ms Wooldridge said.
Australian Drug Foundation CEO John Rogerson said the campaign features a comprehensive addition to the Somazone website, where youth can access fact sheets, support services and personal stories from those who have experienced mental and physical problems associated with cannabis use.
"Additionally the campaign has developed fact sheets and educational materials to assist parents to address their concerns with their children and to understand the effects of cannabis use. These are available on the DrugInfo website."
As part of the Victorian campaign, Minister Wooldridge announced the launch of a design competition for Victorians under 18 on the theme: Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke.
For more information, visit the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/dreamsupinsmoke or www.somazone.com.au
Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.