June 7, 2005
For Immediate Release
New Study: "Anti-Marijuana Ads Still Boomerang"
Research To Be Presented at American Psychological Society Convention in Los Angeles May 28
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- A new study of the government's anti-marijuana commercials shows that the ads create as many negative thoughts and impressions as positive ones, casting doubt on White House claims that the ads have reduced teen drug use. The new research will be presented by Dr. Harvey Ginsburg of Texas State University, San Marcos, as a "hot topics" talk at the American Psychological Society's annual convention in Los Angeles on May 28.
Groups of students, ages 18-23, were shown either four anti-tobacco TV commercials produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or four anti-marijuana ads produced by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Volunteers wrote down their reactions to each, and responses were then coded by independent reviewers (who did not know which ads had been viewed) as favorable to the ads' intent (e.g. characters giving warnings were viewed positively; themes were seen as realistic), unfavorable, or other.
The combined responses to the anti-tobacco ads were strongly favorable, with overwhelmingly favorable responses to three out of four commercials. In contrast, the marijuana ads produced as many unfavorable responses as favorable ones. Only one of the four anti-marijuana commercials produced significantly more responses that were desirable (from the producers' point of view) than undesirable.
"These findings are roughly consistent with independent evaluations showing that the anti-marijuana ads failed to produce positive impacts and may actually boomerang," Dr. Ginsburg said. "Any White House conclusions that their ads have caused a national reduction in marijuana use are not warranted."
The final independent evaluation of the ONDCP ads, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and originally scheduled for release in January, has been delayed without explanation.
Ginsburg's presentation is at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel, Malibu Room, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, in Los Angeles. For information, see www.psychologicalscience.org.
With more than 17,000 members and 120,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana -- both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. MPP believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is imprisonment. For more information, see www.marijuanapolicy.org
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