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Is it illegal to design Pot ads for kids?

Honestly, I don't see the big deal.

Santa Claus Is Going to Pot

Weed ads directed at children should be banned the way tobacco ads are.

By Gary Kirkilas, WSJ

May 10, 2023 6:04 pm ET

Imagine a commercial featuring Ryder and Marshall from “Paw Patrol” lighting cigarettes and enjoying a smoke together. In 1961 Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble happily smoked cigarettes in an ad for Winston. Most children of that era could recite the slogan: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”

Now imagine a child seeing a billboard with Santa Claus holding a water bong saying, “Even Santa Claus knows where to get his DOPEST gifts.” Or a teenager seeing a billboard with a 10-foot-tall cannabis leaf and the cheeky tagline “I like big BUDS and I cannot lie.”

You don’t need to imagine, because ads like these are common in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Cannabis producers and dispensaries have done their homework. Some are using tactics from the tried-and-true playbook alcohol and tobacco companies have used to target young people and hook them for life.

We should be outraged. We know that smoking is dangerous. It’s against the law for tobacco companies to advertise on billboards or sponsor sports and entertainment events. Yet cannabis companies are allowed to do those things in most states where their product is legal.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis for those 21 and older. As more states do so, preventing cannabis use among teens becomes more difficult. Research shows that cannabis use is correlated with psychosis in adolescents and a propensity for suicide. Teen marijuana use is also associated with negative social and learning outcomes, such as decreased high-school graduation rates. A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored study reported that “current use of marijuana among adolescents was significantly associated with exposure to marijuana advertisements.”

Many states have enacted restrictions on youth-targeted cannabis ads, but more should follow. Like the alcohol and tobacco industries, the cannabis industry sees children as potential lifelong customers. Those innocent children need our protection.

Dr. Kirkilas is a Phoenix pediatrician and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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