"Weeded Out" Game Show Aims To Educate Teens About Cannabis Use

By Paul Gaita 11/19/18

Some of the show's target audience of young people have questioned whether Weeded Out presents all sides of the argument for or against marijuana use.

teen participants on Weeded Out answering questions about cannabis
Photo via YouTube

The city of Denver, Colorado has launched a new marijuana education initiative aimed at providing teenagers with facts about cannabis use, as well as related health and policy issues.

The campaign takes a decidedly different approach than previous programs: it's a game show called Weeded Out, which quizzes teen contestants on marijuana fact and fallacy.

As both High Times and CBS This Morning noted, the game show—which is reportedly funded by tax revenue from cannabis sales in Denver—underscores the city's hopes that marijuana education programs can contribute to a decline in cannabis use among teenagers. But the show's target audience of young people has questioned whether Weeded Out presents all sides of the argument for or against marijuana use.

Weeded Out—which airs on social media—follows a traditional quiz show structure, with a panel of teenage contestants answering questions about marijuana. Those that answer incorrectly are "weeded out" until a final group of nine players is left. As High Times noted, the show adopts a Jeopardy-style format, with contestants fielding questions until a final winner is declared.

Education programs like these make a difference, according to Ashley Kilroy, executive director of marijuana policy for the city. According to her, recent statistics show that the number of young people who report using marijuana over a 30-day period has dropped from 26% to less than 21% over the last two years—a trend also echoed in other states where marijuana is legal. "The numbers are showing that use has dropped significantly," she said.

But CBS This Morning found that the focus and tone of the questions asked on the show skew towards the risks involved in cannabis use, and do not always address possible medical benefits. Both the homepage and the Facebook page for the initiative, called High Costs, appear to lean towards a fairly gloomy view of marijuana use; videos on the latter address the connection between cannabis and bronchitis, performance and reaction time, depression and other issues.

Students have picked up on the tone as well. "There's obviously medical benefits to it, otherwise it wouldn't be legal," said high school junior Isaiah Diaz. "It's not properly balanced." Senior Hana Elghoul echoed his sentiment: "I think they are afraid to tell us the good side, just because they think it might influence the way with think," she said. "They might encourage us to use it."

Some teachers who have observed the program and students' reactions to it also feel that a more balanced approach could have greater impact on its audience. "I think at the end of the day, they want the whole truth," said North High School teacher Vince Trujillo. "If you were able to bring both sides, I think more students would be in tune with that."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.