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SF to teach teens ‘risk of cannabis’ ahead of legalization

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Signage is seen outside of the Cookies SF medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Ahead of the statewide legalization of recreational pot shops Jan. 1, San Francisco is launching an ad campaign to teach teenagers the “risks of cannabis use.”

The public service announcements and education campaign will launch in early 2018, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

“It is crucial that teenagers know the facts,” Barbara Garcia, San Francisco’s health director, said in a statement. “We need to support them with clear information about the new law, the risks of cannabis use and how to withstand the influence of targeted advertising.”

California voters approval of Proposition 64 in November 2016, making it legal for people 21 and older to use and possess recreational cannabis. Late last month, the Board of Supervisors approved local regulations for recreational cannabis that will allow existing dispensaries to sell cannabis beginning Jan. 5.

In the wake of the expected influx of available cannabis, the health department will highlight that cannabis-related health risks are greater for youth. Smoking can increase the risk of respiratory illness, according to the health department, and increase risk of “decreased motivation.”

Survey data collected by the San Francisco Unified School District shows 83 percent of San Francisco high school students do not use cannabis.

David Latterman, a local political consultant who also conducts voter surveys, said though the number of non-smoking high schoolers may seem high for San Francisco, he did not expect teens underreporting cannabis use would change the survey results more than 5 percentage points.

“I think these days, most kids aren’t afraid to say they’ve tried pot,” Latterman said.

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