With Canada on track to legalize recreational cannabis on July 1, the federal government has begun the process of educating the public about certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to responsible pot use. Their latest crusade has been a series of ad campaigns, warning Canadian citizens of the risks of drug-impaired driving.
Responsible Toking: Canada’s New Ads About Driving High
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale unveiled the campaign on Tuesday, with the series of advertisements set to air on television, radio, online and in theatres starting December 18. Additional marketing formats will appear on billboards and public places.
The ad campaign, which is in partnership with MADD Canada, Young Drivers of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, will cost the government around $3 million and will be primarily geared towards citizens aged 16 to 24. Goodale admitted he considers this age range “particularly impressionable.”
The theme of the initial video certainly coincides with the target market.
The 30-second ad starts out as a video being shot on a cellphone, selfie-style, with a young girl waving to the camera. The video then pans to her friends in the car smoking cannabis, with the driver of the car looking noticeably high.
The teens continue posing for pictures while listening to music. The music, as well as all laughter and conversation, is eventually cut off by a loud car horn. The car’s windows implode and shatter as another vehicle hits the side of their car.
The video then pans to a shot of the cellphone covered in shards of broken glass.
A narrator’s voice projects one simple message: “Your life can change in an instant. Don’t drive high.”
You can watch the first ad for yourself here.
Final Thoughts: Watch Canada’s New Ads About Driving High
Goodale explained that many Canadians have downplayed the severity of driving under the influence of cannabis.
“Too many Canadians badly need to hear that message,” the minister said during the campaign launch at Carleton University.”Too many people downplay the potentially deadly risks of driving high.”
Additionally, Goodale cited a recent public opinion research that determined around half of the people in the 16 to 24 age range don’t think driving high is as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol.
“A significant proportion of youth believes that cannabis use leads to more cautious driving and that it is difficult for police to detect and charge drivers for cannabis-impaired driving,” according to a December 2016 report.
Patricia Haynes, the national president of MADD Canada, believes the younger demographic needs to change their views on driving high and hopes this new campaign will accomplish just that.
“We know that if this campaign and the campaigns MADD Canada runs and all these other organizations are running save one life, then we know it’s well worth running these programs,” she said. “If none of us have to put a loved one into a cold grave, then we have accomplished our jobs.”
While these campaigns are sponsored by the federal government, it will be largely left up to each Canadian province to determine regulations for high driving. However, there is expected to be some federal provisions put into place.
Some provinces are already ahead of the curve when it comes to a defining set of road rules.
Last week, the Saskatchewan government proposed a zero tolerance law that would immediately suspend the licenses of those found to be driving high. Ontario also adopted a similar zero-tolerance policy for young drivers in September, albeit with lesser penalties.