The Colorado Department of Health and Environment unveiled its new anti-cannabis campaign last week, designed to dissuade those age 12-15 from using marijuana because of potential damage to developing brains.

The "Don't Be a Lab Rat" campaign claims that young smokers are “unwitting test subjects” because the effects of marijuana on developing brains are not fully understood. The $2 million crusade, funded by various government agencies and private foundations, features a new website and commercials to air on television, online and in movie theaters.  

Another aspect of the campaign is the display of human-sized "Lab Rat Cages,” set up at middle and high schools as well as public skate parks, concert venues and other locations. The rat cages are intended to further drive home the message that pot-using teens become "guinea pigs" and are "risking their brains.”

Though Colorado voters legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, state officials have opted not to engage the children of those voters in an open, honest dialogue about pot use and the adolescent brain. Instead officials are relying on drug war propaganda and convoluted concepts that teen use of weed somehow equates to being a laboratory animal. 

In voicing his support for the necessity of the "Lab Rat" campaign, Governor John Hickenlooper referenced a Colorado Department of Public Health survey issued August 5 that reported high school students currently regard pot as less harmful than those surveyed before legalization. However that same poll also indicated teen use of cannabis in Colorado decreased in 2013. One in five high school students reported smoking pot in the last 30 days in 2013 – compared to 22 percent in 2011 when only medical pot was legal in the state.