New Jersey Assemblywoman Aura Dunn is advocating for new legislation to regulate the packaging of cannabis products. This comes after 30 children received medical treatment in July for accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles, according to the New Jersey Poison Control Center.
Dunn, a Republican representing Morris, highlights the concern that more children are gaining access to cannabis products now that recreational marijuana is legal in the state. She emphasizes that children are overdosing on edibles because they resemble harmless candies and treats, and it's time for the Legislature to step in and protect children by implementing packaging regulations.
Under the proposed bill (A5210), the packaging rules set by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission would be made into law. These rules currently prohibit designs that appeal to children and require warning labels with the nationwide poison control hotline. Additionally, the commission would be obligated to report on the adverse effects of cannabis consumption in minors.
Medical professionals stress the importance of bringing young children suspected of consuming cannabis to the emergency room for evaluation. The effects can be delayed and include difficulty breathing, coordination problems, drowsiness, and seizures.
Dunn emphasizes that even though marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable, it does not mean it is safe. Adults must take responsibility for ensuring children can't access this potentially harmful drug.
The statistics in New Jersey are concerning, with the number of poison control calls for children ingesting cannabis more than doubling in four years. In 2021, 486 residents of all ages in New Jersey experienced a dangerous cannabis exposure, with the majority of cases occurring in children aged 5 and younger, according to the National Poison Data System.
Dunn's proposal also introduces penalties for adults who improperly store cannabis products accessible to children under 16. She compares the precautions to locking up liquor, emphasizing the need for responsible adults to protect children as the marijuana market expands in New Jersey.