Why Medical Marijuana Ads May Be More Dangerous Than You Think

Marijuana is more dangerous than you may think, and so are its advertisements. 


Picture this: You’re cruising along the highway at 65 mph with your teen in the passenger seat. You pass a billboard advertising medical marijuana, and neither of you thinks much of it. A few weeks later, your teen gets caught smoking weed at a friend’s party.

Unfortunately, such a scenario is not too far off from reality, suggests a new study published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors

Product jingles and company logos are designed to stick in our heads, influencing our purchasing behavior and building subliminal brand loyalty within a matter of seconds. We know that marketing strategies are powerful, but what we may tend to overlook is whether the actions they provoke are always productive. 

In a year-long study of more than 8,000 California middle schoolers, scientists at the Research and Development Corporation (RAND) found that teens who saw medical marijuana ads on television, billboards, and newspapers were two times more likely to use marijuana than teens who did not see such ads.

The study proves no definite link between marijuana advertising and usage, but study author Elizabeth D’Amico, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, believes the results are cause for concern, especially with recent regulations in mind:  

As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it's important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug.

Those risks include vomiting, respiratory problems, panic attacks, and more. Not to mention that teens who use marijuana are essentially inviting devastating harm to their brains.

To read more on the dangers that marijuana poses to teens, and to learn about how they can avoid addiction, check out our story, “Marijuana Mess.”