Denver’s teen cannabis education campaign, which launched last year, has made good on its promise of a cannabis-themed game show for kids. “Weeded Out” pits teams of teenagers against one another, answering questions on cannabis laws, the health risks of teen use, and odd bits of historical trivia. The goal of the show is, as Denver Department of Excise and Licenses director Ashley Kilroy told the Denverist, to turn traditional teen drug education on its head.
“We feel like that whole D.A.R.E. campaign, and the Just Say No campaign used scare tactics that didn’t work,” she said. “We saw that that sort of negative messaging and fear tactics do not work for this group. Youth want to be talked to like adults—they don’t want to be lectured.”
“Weeded Out” might not be perfect, but the show is clearly trying to avoid the blatant condescension of its predecessors. It still starts out by saying weed can be dangerous, but then moves onto support its claims with research on the risks of cannabis rather than, like D.A.R.E., falsely comparing it to heroin and other potentially fatal substances.
“Weeded Out” tries to engage teens using peppy Millenial hosts who guide them through questions ranging from the somewhat infuriating, “What percent of teens who use marijuana regularly become addicted?” to the relatively benign, “As of fall 2017, how many states have legalized marijuana?”
The “Weeded Out” hosts are a little…obvious, at times.
“Kevin, I just have to ask, did you know that there were so many non-health-related side effects for using marijuana?” host Carly asks her band leader, feigning awe, before reminding him that, “Thousands of students have to face a loss of financial aid and scholarships each year due to having to report a marijuana offense.” (Nevermind, of course, that it’s reprehensible drug war policies that cause that harm not actual drug use.) After her co-host misses the beat on his answer, she asks: “Are you okay?”
“I just remembered how much student debt I have—it’s a lot,” he jokes, which is probably supposed to be relatable and darkly funny, but is just kind of dark. Indeed, being tacitly reminded that America has used cannabis prohibition to systematically deny access to opportunities (usually for minorities) isn’t exactly pleasant, but “Weeded Out” is still light years better than the Reagan-era fear-mongering schools are used to.