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“Don’t be a K2 Zombie” Campaign Wins National Award of Excellence

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Public awareness campaign exposes the dangers of synthetic marijuana

Washington, DC—The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health received an Award of Excellence in the Public Service in the Government Sector category for its “Don’t Be a K2 Zombie”  synthetic marijuana campaign from the  Public Relations Society of America which recognizes the best public relations programs each year.

The “Don’t be a K2 Zombie” campaign increases awareness among youth ages 12 to 16 about the harmful effects of synthetic marijuana.  Called “fake weed”, synthetic marijuana is an herbal mixture that contains harmful chemical additives.  It is heavily marketed to young people. Users may experience extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, psychotic episodes and hallucinations—called the “zombie” effect.  The harmful chemicals also cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, and other conditions that could require emergency treatment.  

The campaign printed resource materials for parents and guardians, distributed Back-to-School synthetic marijuana resource packets in public schools, and advertised on a mobile billboard that visited 17 communities and on Metro buses and stops in areas heavily frequented by youth. The campaign also conducted neighborhood walk-thrus with the Mayor to educate local convenience stores on the law and the dangers of synthetic marijuana.   

“This national award is another recognition that we are getting the word out to prevent the use of synthetic drugs by young people, “said Stephen Baron, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health.

Developed in partnership with Octane Public Relations and Advertising Inc., the “Don’t be a K2 Zombie” campaign was among just 156 finalists in this year’s competition which drew nearly 850 entries.  For more information on the “Don’t Be a K2 Zombie” campaign, visit

The “Don’t Be a K2 Zombie” is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration and launched in April 2013.