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Assemblywoman Dunn proposes stricter cannabis packaging law to protect children

NEW JERSEY – Assemblywoman Aura Dunn is pushing legislation she drafted codifying cannabis packaging regulations following the New Jersey Poison Control Center’s report of 30 children receiving medical treatment for accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles in July.

“An increasing number of children are gaining access to cannabis products following the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Children are overdosing on edibles, not only because they are legal, but because they resemble benign candies and treats,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “It is time the Legislature put the proper safeguards in place to protect children by codifying the packaging regulations created by the cannabis commission.”

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s packaging rules prohibit designs that are attractive to children and require certain warning labels like the nationwide toll-free telephone number for poison control. Under Dunn’s bill (A5210), those rules would become law and the commission would be required to report on the adverse effects of cannabis consumption in minors.

Medical professionals stress young children suspected of eating cannabis need to be evaluated in an emergency room as effects, which can sometimes be delayed, include trouble breathing, loss of coordination, drowsiness, and seizures.

“Just because marijuana may be more socially acceptable, doesn’t mean it is safe and adults still need to be held responsible for ensuring children do not get a hold of a potentially very harmful drug,” Dunn added.

In New Jersey, the number of poison control calls for children ingesting cannabis more than doubled over four years, from 73 calls in 2019 to 162 calls in 2022. According to the National Poison Data System, 486 New Jersey residents of all ages experienced a dangerous cannabis exposure in 2021, but the majority of cases occurred in children 5 years old and younger.

Dunn’s proposal also makes it a disorderly persons offense for an adult to improperly store a cannabis product if a child under 16 could and does gain access.

“Adults should be locking up their marijuana along with their liquor. The same precautions need to be taken, because there are similar consequences. Responsible adults are caring and careful; however, New Jersey has an obligation to protect children as the marijuana market continues to expand,” Dunn said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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