There are plenty of played-out, tired clichés when it comes to smoking weed. It doesn’t turn everyone who smokes a joint into a lazy, unemployable dirtbag. It doesn’t mean you automatically love the smell of patchouli. You may not immediately want a bag of chips. But, in the broadest of terms, weed does tend to bring out the delightfully weird in many people. More often than not, these are just extensions of things we already enjoy. If you enjoy hot showers while sober, weed may just extend that hot shower to 45 minutes and add a blasting of Outkast’s Aquemini.
In a new campaign from the government of Ontario, the Canadian province is simply aiming to remind people that just because they’re not super high, it’s still not okay to drive. The new ads, created by McCann Canada and directed by The Perlorian Brothers, zoom in on the quirks of “barely high.”
The legalization of recreational weed use in Canada last October normalized the once-illegal drug, but it also required the government to balance that with usage warnings like those for gambling and drunk driving. However, with either gambling or drunk driving, we rarely see the use of humor in the warning of serious consequences. Less finger-wag scolding, more pragmatic fellow stoner.
While we’ve been accustomed to drunk-driving PSAs for more than a generation, driving-high warnings are relatively new. Most have relied on the soft power of stoner clichés and humor like this to get the point across (like this 2014 Colorado campaign), avoiding the harsher light of the “This is your brain on drugs”-era scare tactics.
Which approach works better? Whatever side of the PSA persuasion fence you sit on, it’s worth comparing any new entry to perhaps the most jarring driving-while-high warning ever made, by Australia’s Transit Accident Commission back in 2011.