SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday the immediate statewide expansion of a youth marijuana use prevention campaign to a statewide audience.
The goal of the Stay True to You campaign is to prevent or delay the initiation of marijuana use among Oregon's 12- to 20-year-old population.
In 2016, the Oregon Legislature instructed OHA to evaluate the effectiveness of youth marijuana prevention messaging by conducting a geographically limited pilot. That campaign lasted from June 2016 to June 2017 and took place in the Portland metro area, and Jackson and Josephine counties.
RMC Research, an independent evaluation firm, found that the pilot campaign successfully raised awareness of the legal consequences of underage marijuana use and contributed to a correct perception that only 1 in 5 Oregon teens use marijuana.
"Research shows that our audience was receptive to the Stay True to You campaign," said Kati Moseley, policy specialist at OHA's Public Health Division. "With this expansion, youth and young adults statewide will hear the message that marijuana use should be delayed until adulthood or avoided entirely."
OHA developed the Stay True to You campaign using extensive audience research and focus groups. Twenty-eight focus groups were conducted in Portland, Bend, Medford and Pendleton featuring 260 youth and young adults between 14 and 20 years old.
Participants from the African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, white, American Indian/Alaskan native and Latino communities were included. DHM Research (Davis, Hibbitts, & Midghall Inc.), contracted by OHA to facilitate all focus groups, conducted groups in English and Spanish between October 2015 and March 2016.
"Our focus group research showed youth and young adults are eager for more information on the effects of marijuana use," Moseley said. "Though research into marijuana use isn't as extensive as that on alcohol or tobacco, there is sufficient evidence that using marijuana can have a significant effect on developing brains."
The facts cited in the campaign on brain development and marijuana's effects on learning are based on reviews of the current science by OHA's Retail Marijuana Scientific Advisory Committee.
OHA's role following the legalization of marijuana is to educate the public about the health issues related to marijuana use; prevent youth marijuana use; and monitor marijuana use, attitudes and health effects. OHA will publish final research results of the pilot campaign evaluation late this summer.
The statewide campaign will advertise across a variety of media, but the bulk of advertising will take place on digital and streaming video to most effectively reach the youth audience. Other campaign elements include a social media presence (#StayTrueOregon), a website (StayTrueToYou.org) and promotions and outreach to organizations where youth gather.