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Survey Shows Denver’s Youth Marijuana Education Campaign Continues to Positively Influence Decision Making

For the second consecutive year, a survey of Denver teenagers is showing Denver’s High Costs marijuana youth education and prevention campaign is effectively discouraging youth from consuming adult-use marijuana. Among youth that were aware of the campaign, 81 percent of teens between the ages of 13-17 indicated the campaign discouraged them from using marijuana, compared to 75 percent the previous year.

The High Costs campaign is an effort by the City and County of Denver, managed by the Department of Excise and Licenses’ Office of Marijuana Policy, to educate Denver’s youth on how underage marijuana use can affect their passions, pursuits and future. Instead of promoting scare tactics, Denver’s campaign focuses on providing facts for teens, so they can have accurate peer-to-peer conversations.

Among the results of the survey conducted by Insights Lab, which ran from mid-November through mid-December 2019, and polled 537 teens ages 13-18 representative of Denver’s youth population, were a few other key statistics of note:

  • Awareness of the High Costs campaign remains high, with 56 percent of Denver teens indicating that they were familiar with the campaign.
  • 74 percent of teens who saw the online advertising engaged with the campaign. Of those teens, 51 percent engaged by liking an online post, 27 percent shared the online content and 43 percent talked about the content with friend.
  • The survey also asked Denver teens about their marijuana usage.
  • 81 percent of teens aged 13-17 said they are not current users of marijuana compared to 80 percent in 2018. 24 percent said they had used marijuana 1-2 times ever, compared to 21 percent in 2018, while 57 percent have never used, compared to 59 percent in 2018.
  • 82 percent of Denver male teenagers said they are not current users of marijuana compared to 73 percent in 2018, a statistically significant change. 87 percent of teenage females said they are not current users compared to 90 percent in 2018.
  • For the first time, Denver added 18-year-olds in the High Costs post-campaign survey. Among 18-year-olds, 61 percent said they are not current users of marijuana, which is 20 percentage points lower than ages 13-17.
  • Most teens familiar with the campaign agreed that High Costs has a clear message (89 percent), is educational (87 percent), trustworthy (77 percent), and likeable (75 percent).

“After Denver became the first major city in America with legalized retail marijuana, many other cities and states turned to us to learn how we successfully regulated marijuana. Hopefully, our continued success educating youth to wait until they are of legal age to consume can also serve as an example for other communities across the U.S. The verdict is in that scare tactics are not successful with youth. Providing them facts about marijuana is the most effective youth education and prevention approach.” said Denver Excise and Licenses Executive Director Ashley Kilroy, who has overseen marijuana regulation in Denver since the first day of legalized retail sales in 2014.

The campaign is delivered to Denver youth where they are at, such as social media platforms, posters in schools, digital radio, school bus signage, social media, mobile gaming apps, digital video and other platforms.

Find the campaign at For additional findings please visit to access the full survey data.