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Health Department apologizes, says it plans to remove anti-pot message aimed at Latinos

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Department of Health is apologizing after some people were offended by anti-marijuana messaging aimed at Latino youth in the Yakima area.

The public health campaign includes advertisements and at least one billboard that says, “We don’t need pot to have fun,” and “We’re Hispanics … We’re cool by default.”

Health Department spokeswoman Julie Graham says it’s clear from the reaction on social media that some people were offended. The department said on its Twitter feed Tuesday that it will remove the billboard.

“We’ve heard that our marijuana prevention billboard has offended some and we’re sorry,” the state Health Department said on its Facebook page. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent marijuana use by all youth in WA State. This campaign was due to end on Friday, but we’re taking steps to remove the billboard as soon as possible.”

Graham says the ads are part of a statewide effort to prevent teens from using marijuana. A group of about 60 local youth helped craft the message running in Yakima, which they thought would be effective in their demographic.