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LA County Campaign Aimed At Keeping Teens From Using Marijuana

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Health officials Thursday kicked off a public education campaign aimed at keeping kids off marijuana, even as one in six teenagers in Los Angeles County are considered frequent users of the drug.

Using rap music videos and roundtable talks, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's "bigger choices" campaign focuses on the possible dangers of using marijuana before the legal age of 21.

"I would see marijuana, like blunt wraps on the floor, on the bleachers, and people would smell it in the restroom," one L.A. high schooler involved in the campaign told CBS2 News.

"They post pictures or videos of them doing it online, especially like Snapchat," said another female student.

According to the Department of Public Health, some long-term effects on young people who use marijuana include impaired thinking, memory and learning functions.

"There are numerous studies associating the use of cannabis with rates of psychosis and schizophrenia," said Dr. Gary Tsai.

Plus, there are the legal ramifications some teens have seen firsthand.

"One of my friends was actually sent to prison recently because he started smoking marijuana a lot, and then he stopped showing up to class, and now he, like, robbed a store to support his habit," said student Lily Larson. "And now he's locked up."

According to a 2017 LACDHP survey of 12- to 17-year-olds, 26 percent reported using pot at least once in their lifetime. Of those who said they used marijuana, 72 percent said they used the drug with friends. Forty-nine percent said they have gone to school high.

"I'm inspired by these young leaders who have taken the initiative to express to their peers just how important it is to avoid marijuana and make bigger and better decisions for their health and their future," Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.

"There's other ways to have fun, there's other ways to find an escape from your problems in life," said one teen.

Videos for the campaign - which include addiction specialist and media celebrity Dr. Drew Pinksy - can be found at the Let's Talk Cannabis YouTube page.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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