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Colorado City Puts off Anti-Pot 'Lab Rat' Campaign

Updated: 08/27/2014 10:13 AM
Created: 08/27/2014 9:38 AM KSTP.com

A provocative anti-marijuana campaign aimed at Colorado youths has angered marijuana activists for its tag line, "Don't Be a Lab Rat." Now, a Colorado city is holding off on displaying a human-size cage used in the campaign after a school district raised concerns.
    
The city of Boulder said Tuesday it is putting off the campaign. The city is delaying installation after the Boulder Valley School District said the display was a bad prop for 12- to 15-year-olds, The Daily Camera reported.
    
"We had concerns about the use of human-scale rat cages being an effective tool for getting 12- to 15-year-olds to understand the risks involved with their developing brains," school district spokesman Briggs Gamblin said.
    
The 12-foot-long, 8-foot-high cage attracted vandals and jeers in its run at two different Denver locations, the public library and the downtown skate park. Recreational pot sales to those 21 and older in Colorado became legal this year.
    
The state's chief medical officer says the campaign is effective because it is getting kids talking about the risks of marijuana use.
    
"From the public health standpoint, we want kids to take notice, and we want adults to talk with kids about marijuana," Dr. Larry Wolk said Tuesday.
    
He said he was surprised the campaign has sparked opposition.
    
"I'm a little surprised, but I would hope that for the sake of the kids or their health, they would at least agree with the intent behind the campaign," Wolk said.
    
Boulder's Shawn Coleman, a marijuana industry lobbyist, said the campaign suggested pot use could usher someone behind bars.
    
"The first thing that happens is you see the illusion that cannabis use equals cage. So using marijuana equals jail," he said.
    
Gamblin said the school district simply worried about how students would take the campaign.
    
"I think the intent came from a really positive place," Gamblin said. "But we just are not convinced that students would perceive it that way."
    
Wolk said the "Lab Rat" campaign is funded with private donations and by the Denver city government. It could be a starting point for an upcoming $6 million campaign funded by pot taxes to discourage teen pot use, he said.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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