Denver's "Lab Rat Cages" Already Defaced

Colorado is spending $2 million on a campaign called "Don't Be a Lab Rat" to warn teens about possible brain damage from marijuana. As part of the campaign, life size rat cages have been set up at the Denver Public Library and Denver Skate Park (Photo via CBS Denver.) More are planned. The cage at the skateboard park has already been defaced. [More...]

[photos removed because Photobucket is a mess]

My opinion: Campaigns based on fear-mongering, like this one, are a waste of money. Instead of facts, the campaign links to a few research studies claiming marijuana causes schizophrenia, reduces IQ, causes memory loss, etc. Its point is, what if these studies are right? I think most people would answer, "What if they're not?"

Even the Denver Post points out in an editorial which praises the campaign, kids don't react well to over the top drug messages, and the cages are a bit much.

I found the website for the campaign visually confusing. Also, message graphics bleed into each other and there's really very little content -- each message point seems to link to one media article reporting a study.

The campaign's 30 second videos (available here on You Tube)which will be played in movie theaters, are slow, redundant and yawn-inducing. They each start with a few survey questions with too much time in between the questions, and then go to a photo of scientists sitting next to each other. Nothing connects the questions and the photo. What's the point?

As to effective marketing campaigns aimed at youth, no one today does it better than ISIS and its media arm, al Hayat Media. Maybe the Governor's office and its production company should watch a few before creating its next campaign.

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    That is hysterical (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by sj on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:25:10 PM EST
    It reminds my of my reaction when I saw "Reefer Madness" for the first (and only!) time:

    "I need a joint"

    but from one of your links:

    The name of the campaign is "Don't Be a Lab Rat" and was funded by was funded by legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies.
    What isn't clear: which legal settlements were those exactly?

    And surprise, surprise that the pharmaceutical companies are involved. They got in some marketing propaganda and managed to have it count against sort of "legal settlement".


    Oh, and  that extra "was funded by" in the quote? It appeared in each of the three articles I looked at. So was that written by a straight person or a stoned person?

    I have seen MJ cause a lot of problems.... (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by magster on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:47:06 PM EST
    with a teenager in my family and the damage done to her nuclear family. It's not a harmless drug. Expulsion from HS, worsened depression, circle of friends that are drop-outs, legal problems....

    This campaign is a joke, but the issue isn't.

    Sorry, don't concur (4.20 / 5) (#41)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:43:43 PM EST
    I had my cousins' lives devastated by alcohol while they were in their teens.  Oxycontin and meth made the rounds at my daughter's high school.  I would rather have kids smoking weed than anything else.

    Sorry about the complications in your life, but correlation is not necessarily causation.  Not sure when my daughter, now 24, started smoking, but she was also 4.0 through HS and graduated with honors from a major university, moved right into a good job in her field.

    A lot of successful people drink.  That's not what made them successful.


    3 recs for someone who doesn't know (none / 0) (#42)
    by magster on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:32:35 PM EST
    shit about my family member and makes an asshole response to something I've witnessed first hand. smh and stfu!

    Magster... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:32:14 PM EST
    ...I believe the point being made, very poorly, is that drug abuse is usually the symptom and that maybe if weed wasn't available, she may turned to something worse.  A least that is how I read it.

    Not that I agree with the point, but I would like to know how two people who appear to be similar in every way and use similar drugs, but one can stay at the occasional user level, while the other let's drugs take control.

    I have a very close friend who I used to drink with in highschool, by graduation, he was drinking at lunch and soon after, full blown alcoholic in the classic worse sense.  Of the 10 of us, he went down the hole, several of us partied a lot, but not problematic, and the others could take it or leave it.  No one else in his large family has issues, it's just so damn odd that he lost control and so quickly.  I also wonder if he would have had the same issues if it was another substance, like weed.

    Like Williams was just wired with depression, maybe its the same, so people's brain chemistry just make them susceptible to addiction.  The same way a depressant can't make themselves happy, an addictive brain just can't say no.  

    Just my opinion, but not all people who use drugs are trying to escape reality or make the pain stop, some people just like being high, and some can't stop when it start causing problems.


    That's tragic (none / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:04:26 PM EST
    I have a young relative that was in a similar situation for many years. He's past it now, but there are definitely times when it's obvious how fragile his current stability really is.

    I understand your point exactly, I think. And yet, other than the legal ones, it Isn't the mj that caused those problems. If it is anything like my cousin, the existence of all of those things are symptoms of the same thing. MJ is part and parcel of those other problems, not the cause of them.

    Doesn't make it any easier to deal with, though.


    except that if it was so harmless.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by magster on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:33:53 PM EST
    she could let it go until she's 21. But she can't. It might not be physically addictive, but it's a crutch that she won't give it up.

    Parents are doing what they can setting her up with therapy and such, but a lot of drama...


    I didn't say (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by sj on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:53:47 PM EST
    anything close to "it was so harmless". Not that I really think you tried to put words my mouth. But some people are just addictions waiting to happen -- it's only yet to be determined what that addiction is.

    In the case of my cousin, it was d@mn near everything. And I mean everything -- right down to the tootsie roll pops.


    I misunderstood.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:18:00 PM EST
    when you said it was only the legal consequences directly created by the MJ.

    At the risk of sounding like an old guy with a "back in my day anecdote", back in my day 3.2 beer was legal, a HS senior would buy a keg, everyone would wait in a mosh pit anarchy line for a half hour to get a solo cup full of weak beer and by the time the keg was dry people were still relatively sober.


    Just a guess... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:14:29 PM EST
    But it sounds like self-medicating, in a bad way. The marijuana abuse is a symptom of the problem, not  the cause perhaps, as sj suggests?

    I'm probably an opposite case..a stressed out anxiety riddled child and teen. I strongly believe my  marijuana use as a teen helped me overcome those issues and find joy in social situations I once dreaded. Joy in life. Not simply harmless, but beneficial. I may well be in a mental institution or therapy without it...I so related to the graffiti on the labrat cage...that was me.  

    But I'm the first to admit it's not for everybody, for others use leads to abuse and problems. One person's godsend is another's demon.

    Best of luck to the young woman figuring it out...la vida es dura.

    Now I'm thinking about Robin Williams, and my father, who overcame addictions only to turn to suicide when sober. It's like their addictions, as painful as they are to the addict and their loved ones, gave them a reason to live. A warped reason, but a reason none the less. I don't know...heavy sh#t to ponder.


    Yeah, self-medicating.... (none / 0) (#11)
    by magster on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:50:23 PM EST
    I know the parents were really frustrated by the mental health services being offered by Kaiser and had to throw a fit just to get more intensive treatment outside of Kaiser.

    But it wasn't addiction that turned RW to (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 11:17:41 PM EST
    suicide. (And he's was sober for 20yrs.) It was depression.  I think while he was living all these years, he had more to live for than his addiction.  Seems he would have left long ago or continued down the addiction path if that wasn't the case.

    My dad was sober for many years too... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:35:06 PM EST
    and a pretty miserable sober at that.  

    As he tried to explain during our talks as he was drinking himself to death, he just loved to drink.  It brought him happiness, "treated" his depression and/or demons.  And as bad as his alcoholism got, it was still a better life than being sober in his mind. He got sober for his kids, and once we were grown he could no longer justify denying himself drink and being miserable.

    Now sobriety wasn't the only reason he felt his life was no longer worth living, perhaps not even the main one, but it was a factor.  I couldn't help but think Robin Williams may have had something similar going on...of course I have no idea, just saw a parallel with my dad.


    The key... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by lentinel on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:31:44 AM EST
    ...it's a crutch that she won't give it up.

    MJ, can be a crutch.

    So can many other things.
    Television series'.

    You've heard the expression, "News junkie" - to describe peoples addiction to being absorbed in the vagaries of the daily serving of "news" dished out to us by various outlets.

    Many things can be pleasurable and relaxing for some, and a crutch for others. I cannot judge people. I couldn't counsel anyone either, unless I knew them and they wanted my input.


    I should (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by lentinel on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:58:28 AM EST
    also add that there is nothing inherently wrong with a "crutch" imo.

    If you're injured, a crutch can help you move - to walk - until things heal.

    Similarly, if one is going through a personal crisis, I believe that a crutch, something that is fun or comforting, can be most helpful.

    A crutch is not, granted, a solution to a deep personal problem.

    But I would never deny anyone the right to resort to one for a brief respite from what could be a crushing reality.


    Like anything "serious", sold by adults (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:11:59 PM EST
    and placed in a skate park is going to go un-defaced.


    FWIW, I think this campaign is going to wind up like "Reefer Madness" did:  a joke.  For those old enough to remember the 70s, the multiplex cinemas would run a bunch of midnight movies aimed directly at the teenaged audience.  "Woodstock", "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Quadrophenia" and, yes, "Reefer Madness" played every weekend for years, the last to gales of laughter and (violating the "no smoking in theaters" rule) clouds of MJ smoke.

    I suppose there's no fixing the bluenoses and, like the poor, they will always be with us.  But there's no reason to give them too much of an audience except as a negative example to show to kids.

    Never Mind... (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:30:59 AM EST
    ...the obvious hypocrisy of posting the dangers of anything in a skate park, where most of the crowd is established risk takers.

    I remember as a 5th grader, a cop came to class with this foldout portfolio, fills with all kinds of drugs.  Don't remember much, but I do remember the cop going into detail about the multiplication effect of mixing drugs.  I was thinking, how is that a bad thing, he was just talking about how expensive drugs are, now he's telling us if you mix them, you get more bang for the buck.

    The other thing I remember, the cr@p they put out was so scary that I swore I would never touch weed or any other drug.  Then I hit high school and realized not one thing they told us matched what I was seeing with my very own eyes.  My friends and others weren't dying, they weren't, no one beat up old ladies to get a fix, and on and on.  

    The obvious conclusion was they were lying through their teeth.  So even the stuff that was accurate was dismissed because the information was so obviously, over the top BS, that only an idiot would buy the non-sense they were selling.

    I bet if they were honest, more people would listened the actual dangers with weed and drugs in general, which may have helped a lot of folks who didn't know better and ended up with real problems because they can't decipher fact from fiction from the 'Just Say No" fear mongers.


    The Establishment does love its cages... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:26:20 AM EST

    OK, this might be the biggest waste (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:38:50 AM EST
    of $2million I have ever heard of.

    I'm all for an education campaign, but this is just ridiculous.

    Hard to believe (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:46:23 AM EST
    Anyone could come up with anything more pointless or laughable that the " egg on drugs" campaign.

    But they have done it.


    I take it this was paid for out of the (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:57:57 AM EST
    tax revenues from the pot sales. I remember seeing that so much of the tax revenues were earmarked for 'drug education' or whatever they called it. What a waste. Put the money in to the general education fund and reinstate school health classes that have probably been cut or given over to abstinence only s*x education. That is where I learned about the side effects of various kinds of drugs - and this was at Catholic school in the late 60s....no scare tactics, just the facts...from a science teacher who's dog was named Reefer.  

    The powers that be seem unable (none / 0) (#23)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:07:24 AM EST
    To make the reasonable and logical point that both sex and drugs should be used wisely and in reasonable moderation.

    They can can only make stupid rat cages or eggs in skillets or preaching BAD BAD BAD.

    Which of course, as anyone who knows a teen ager can tell you is like a paid advertisement for what ever it is you are trying to ban.


    Capt... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 06:29:36 PM EST
    As a highschooler in mid/late 80's I take offense to your description of the egg/frying pan commercials, while not the best, it was catchy, and was used extensively as 'code'.

    Some version of let's fry some eggs or the egg needs to frying, know where we can score a pan.  Parents don't like fried brains, teenagers do.

    But there will never be an anti-weed commercial as good as "I learned it by watching you.."  Where the kid is busted with weed he stole form the old man.

    I swear, every person smoking pot with say that when exhaling with as much over acting as humanly possible, "I learned it by watching you, dad" generally followed by some version of how cool would it be to have a pot smoking old man.  Idiots, but those were the idiots they were trying to keep off the drugs, not give them cool lines to say while smoking it up.


    Why don't they just run commercials like (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by nycstray on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:04:29 PM EST
    the big pharma companies and give the laundry list of things that could happen to a certain percentage of the population while people are enjoying their high in the background?  ;)

    I'm thinking the folks at the skate parks will be modifying those cages soon to accommodate some new skill :P

    LOL... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:19:46 PM EST
    It would be a much shorter list than what big pharma is pushing...no rectal bleeding, for one;)

    I think they could be quite amusing :P (none / 0) (#33)
    by nycstray on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:03:32 PM EST
    May in some cases cause (none / 0) (#34)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:33:25 PM EST
    Inappropriate humor, light headedness the tendency to eat things one might not otherwise consider eating.  

    Maybe we could get MO on board (none / 0) (#36)
    by nycstray on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:12:19 PM EST
    to promote healthy munchies :)

    Also (none / 0) (#39)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:20:09 PM EST
    The operation of heavy equipment and the wearing of corduroy should be avoided

    Perfect! (none / 0) (#35)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:59:52 PM EST
    Fear mongering is not the way to go... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:17:02 PM EST
    didn't work on me, just made me think the anti-drug people were/are compulsive liars. Not to mention a bore.

    A better tact to get teens to wait would be a campaign that levels with them...marijuana can be a beautiful thing once you're mature enough physically and mentally to handle it.  No need to rush, even better strains will be waiting for you when you grow up! Patience is a virtue.

    18 should be the age though...waiting till 21 is too tough a sell.  Ron Popeil couldn't pull that off.

    On second thought... (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:17:58 PM EST
    No campaign is gonna work, the adult world has no credibility with the kids. Look around, can you blame them for not believing a word we say?

    and with that...where is... (none / 0) (#12)
    by fishcamp on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:29:07 PM EST

    I heard that (none / 0) (#19)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:44:38 AM EST
    While I doubt (none / 0) (#17)
    by smott on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:24:54 AM EST
    This type of campaign will have much effect, my nephew is still suffering from a 2yr span of heavy weed use which culminated in a psychotic break at age 20. It is likely that he got some weed that was tainted so I suppose it's hard to pinpoint exact cause, but in those 2 years he was heavily depressed....

    He is now diagnosed as BiPolar NOS, out of school, no job and barely functioning. It has really torn the family apart because he became extremely hostile to his parents and eventually wound up living with his uncle.

    He does fear that he has permanently damaged his brain.

    The "saved my life" (none / 0) (#21)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:48:43 AM EST
    Tag is interesting.   My stoner nephew says the same thing.  He has a prescription addicted mother and I don't doubt it at all.

    Never had to escape.  I just like it.

    Really? (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:12:43 AM EST
    Instead of facts, the campaign links to a few research studies claiming marijuana causes schizophrenia, reduces IQ, causes memory loss, etc. Its point is, what if these studies are right? I think most people would answer, "What if they're not?"

    So, there are a "few studies" that say it causes bad things, but you want us to go with the touchy-feely "What if they're wrong?" (with no science to back it up) as the stronger argument?

    Look, I agree that using these cages may not be the best way to get a message across, especially to teenagers, but seriously, if we use your logic of "What if they're wrong?" then let's open it up:  What if all the people who say "pot isn't bad" or "it's no worse than alcohol" - "What if they're wrong?"

    Support for legalization is a separate issue from discussing the harm that can be caused by ingesting chemicals into the body and is certainly no reason to turn off the common sense portion of our brains to discount things like, oh, science.  I thought only flat-earthers and climate change-deniers did things like that.

    That would be fine (none / 0) (#26)
    by sj on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:51:47 AM EST
    ...discussing the harm that can be caused by ingesting chemicals into the body ...
    In fact, it would be better than fine.

    But that isn't what this is.


    Which is what this meant (none / 0) (#27)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:07:12 PM EST
    Look, I agree that using these cages may not be the best way to get a message across, especially to teenagers

    And not (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:07:33 PM EST
    What the original post said.

    That's a pretty narrow (none / 0) (#30)
    by sj on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:04:13 PM EST
    interpretation of what the post said and not at all how I interpreted it, but okay.

    To me the cages are twice as stupid (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:14:12 PM EST
    as the fried eggs one.  They'd be better off towing banners behind bi-planes like they do up in Miami.  

    I would like to have been (none / 0) (#38)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:18:12 PM EST
    In the "brainstorming" session when the were conceived.  Or maybe it would be better to see a video of it since my loud guffawing would have been distracting to the participants.

    They prob would have (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by nycstray on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:49:41 PM EST
    kicked me out of the room :P