Hochul wants ‘Cannabis Conversations’

Kathy Hochul
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul talks with reporters about the state budget at the state Capitol, Monday, April 4, 2022, in Albany, N.Y.
Associated Press/Hans Pennink

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced “Cannabis Conversations,” New York State’s first public health education campaign on cannabis to inform the public on the state’s Cannabis Law, including who can consume, where to consume and how to consume safely.

Hochul said this wide-reaching campaign will provide parents and caregivers with tools to protect youth, remind New Yorkers of the risks of driving while impaired by cannabis, and other messages to help keep New Yorkers safe and healthy as the new industry develops.

These messages will be distributed in English and Spanish through public service advertisements on television, radio, transit, billboards and social media.

“With the ‘Cannabis Conversations’ campaign, we’re following through on our commitment to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to safely navigate the new Cannabis Law,” Gov. Hochul said. “Education is the best tool to keep New Yorkers healthy as we continue to ramp up this safe, inclusive, and equitable industry.”

Public service advertisements for the “Cannabis Conversations” campaign started on Monday and will run for about three months.

Monday’s launch is centered on a 30-second, overarching message that highlights: New York State legalizing cannabis, but only for adults 21 years old and over; not driving under the influence; keeping second-hand cannabis smoke away from other people; locking up cannabis and storing it out of reach of children and pets.

As part of the campaign, the governor said additional messages will be introduced in the future to reinforce and expand on these concepts.

Hochul said the campaign builds on the Office of Cannabis Management’s first public-outreach effort, also called “Cannabis Conversations,” where the OCM held virtual outreach sessions in 10 regions across New York and an 11th session in Spanish.

The governor said New York’s Cannabis Law focuses on public health and is grounded in the principles of public safety, social justice and equitable economic development designed to help undo the harm caused by cannabis prohibition.

As part of this public policy shift, the law requires public health education campaigns that inform New Yorkers of the new law and the impact of cannabis use on public health and safety.

“’Cannabis Conversations’ is our first public health campaign as we make sure New Yorkers have the initial information they need to stay safe and healthy,” said Cannabis Control Board Chair, Tremaine Wright.

“We have learned from other states and are excited to amplify these important messages across the State,” he added. “Meanwhile, we’re hard at work building this new industry, and as it continues to evolve, so, too, will our public education efforts with future campaigns tackling a growing range of health and safety messaging.”

Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management Chris Alexander said, “Our first public health education campaign, ‘Cannabis Conversations,’ will give New Yorkers the information they need to start talking about our state’s Cannabis Law and the health and safety implications for consuming cannabis.

“This fact-based campaign reflects the change in how we’re approaching cannabis as we focus on evidence-based education over prosecution,” he added.

The “Cannabis Conversations” campaign was developed by the Office of Cannabis Management following a review of education campaigns operated by other states legalized adult-use cannabis before New York state and in partnership with the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Department of Health, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, “The new ‘Cannabis Conversations’ campaign provides people with the facts and educates them about the new law.

“As cannabis becomes more widely available as a legal recreational product, its safe use is an important message,” she said.

Commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “It’s important that New Yorkers have the key information provided by ‘Cannabis Conversations’ and is part of the necessary shift as we move from criminalization to a place of being able to educate the public.

“I encourage New Yorkers to take the next step and follow the campaign back to cannabis.ny.gov where they have access to more information and resources to help keep themselves healthy,” he added.

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