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Health Canada launches cannabis education campaign at Folk on the Rocks

With roughly three months until cannabis becomes legal nation-wide, the Government of Canada has launched a campaign to educate Canadian youth.

A sign outside the Pursue Your Passion Campaign kiosk at Folk on the Rocks. Photo by Meaghan Richens.

If you were at Folk on the Rocks this weekend, you may have noticed an orange and purple kiosk, offering free phone charging stations and wifi.

That kiosk is part of a national education campaign called ‘Pursue your Passion’, which aims to educate Canadian youth about the health effects of cannabis.

Health Canada launched the Pursue Your Passion travelling engagement tour at the Buskers on the Bay festival in Saint John, New Brunswick and at the Folk on the Rocks Music Festival last weekend.

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Health Canada announced the launch of the tour in a news release last week.

The “tour will bring [the] interactive exhibit across Canada offering Canadians the opportunity to learn the facts about cannabis and encourage youth to pursue healthy activities, rather than using cannabis,” the release states.

The campaign is touring around to festivals and events around the country, with the aim of helping youth discover new passions or hobbies by experimenting with different activities at their booth.

A slideshow about the effects of cannabis on the brain was on display at Folk on the Rocks this weekend. Photo by Meaghan Richens.

Some of the activities on display at Folk included a rock climbing wall, a virtual graffiti wall and an interactive music table, as well as a slideshow about the effect cannabis has on different areas of the brain.

Martina Gaube was working at the booth at Folk on the Rocks, and says the tour’s goal is to encourage youth to do things other than use cannabis.

“The purpose of the “Pursue Your Passion Tour” is to make them realize that there are many different ways of relaxing, feeling good and socializing while having a healthy lifestyle without the potential health and safety risks of cannabis use,” says Gaube in an email.

Most of the attendees at the booth during Folk were much younger than the demographic of young adults and teenagers they were intending to attract, Gaube admits.

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“Our purpose here is to represent Health Canada to help educate teenagers and young adults on the risk of cannabis consumption while helping them discover a healthy lifestyle through art and different physical activities,” Gaube says.

According to the federal government’s page on ‘Cannabis Education Activities’, the total planned investment in ‘cannabis public education, awareness and surveillance’ amounts to more than $100 million over six years.

In the 2018 budget, the Liberal government proposed to invest $62.5 million over five years to support community-based organizations and Indigenous organizations educating their communities on the risks associated with cannabis use, on top of a previously announced investment of $46 million over five years to support ‘public education, awareness and surveillance activities.’

The campaign’s next stop is CentreFest in Red Deer, Alberta this weekend. The current tour is scheduled to continue until late fall 2018, and a second wave is being planned beyond fall 2018.

The Cannabis Act has received Royal Assent and will come into force on October 17, 2018.

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