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The Growing Brain – Cannabis campaign

The Growing Brain campaign aims to prevent and delay cannabis use among 14 to 24-year-olds in Western Australia.

Cannabis can impact a young person's developing brain - affecting memory, learning, and mental health. The risk increases the younger a person starts using cannabis, the more they use, and the more often they use.2,3

Cannabis is the most used illicit drug in Western Australia. 1 in 5 (19%) people aged between 15 to 24 reported using cannabis in the past 12 months in 2019.4 

Research shows people who start using cannabis at an early age are more likely to leave school early, develop dependence on cannabis, and experience mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.5,6

Young people in WA have said they want factual information about the risks associated with using cannabis.

'The Growing Brain' campaign is part of the Drug Aware program that aims to prevent, delay and reduce drug use and related harm by providing evidence-based information to help young people in WA make informed decisions about illicit drugs.

Young people will be encouraged to visit

Last updated December 2022

Key message

Cannabis can harm a young person's developing brain.

Target audience

Young people aged 14 to 24 years old in Western Australia.

Short-term objectives

  • Decrease the belief that cannabis use is harmless.
  • Increase awareness that cannabis use can harm the developing brain.
  • Increase awareness that cannabis use can impact memory, learning and mental health.

Long-term objectives

  • Increase the average age of initiation of cannabis use.
  • Decrease self-reported use of cannabis (recent use) and frequency of use.


'The Growing Brain' campaign is a joint initiative by the Mental Health Commission and Cancer Council WA. The campaign was developed in consultation with young people and guided by researchers and clinicians. 

Drug Aware has partnered with the Strong Spirit Strong Mind Aboriginal Program to develop a culturally secure adaptation of the 'The Growing Brain'.


Campaign Community Toolkit

The Growing Brain Community Toolkit

Social media assets

Drug Aware

Strong Spirit Strong Mind

Campaign video

Drug Aware

Strong Spirit Strong Mind

Audio assets

Drug Aware

Strong Spirit Strong Mind (English, Kriol, Martu)

Campaign websites

Drug Aware

Strong Spirit Strong Mind

Campaign resources

Posters and factsheet

Email signature

Resources are available to download electronically. If you are interested in ordering hard copy resources free-of-charge, please reach out to the Drug Aware team.

'The Growing Brain' campaign launches on 4 December 2022 and will run for an initial 9 months until the end of August 2023.

The campaign media strategy will be led by social media advertising (TikTok, YouTube, Meta), and supported by other online advertising and radio (Spotify, Soundcloud), and targeted out-of-home advertising (youth centres, skate parks, campuses).

  1. Lubman DI, Cheetham A, Yücel M (2014). Cannabis and adolescent brain development. Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Apr;148:1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.11.009. PMID: 25460036.
  2. Hall, W., & Degenhardt, L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet (London, England), 374(9698), 1383-1391. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61037-0
  3. Silins, E., Horwood, J., Patton, G., Fergusson., D., Olsson, C., Hutchinson, D., Slade, T. (2014). Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use:an integrative analysis.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). National Drug Strategy Household Sruvey 219: data table S.29. Retrieved from Canberra
  5. B Han, WM Compton, EB Einstein, ND Volkow. (2021). Associations of Suicidality Trends With Cannabis Use as a Function of Sex and Depression Status(link is external). JAMA Network Open. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13025
  6. Silins, E., Horwood, J., Patton, G., Fergusson, D., Olsson, C., Hutchinson, D., Slade, T. (2014). Young adults sequelae of adolescent cannabis use:an integrative analysis. 

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