NJ.com - N.J. launches safe-use campaign to deter children, pregnant moms, drivers from consuming cannabis
Updated: Oct. 11, 2023, 3:00 p.m.|
Published: Oct. 11, 2023, 2:59 p.m.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, along with several community partners, gathered in Trenton Wednesday to kick off the state’s first campaign promoting safe, legal weed use. The campaign’s primary goal is to equip the public with information and resources to make informed choices about cannabis consumption, according to the CRC.
These messages will be shared through over 100 digital billboards placed across the state’s highways, as well as in bilingual ads posted in local community hubs and on social media platforms.
“The CREAMM Act, the legislation that paved the way for legal cannabis use in New Jersey, stipulates that the commission provide information for safe and responsible consumption as well as programs and campaigns to deter youth consumption,” said Jeff Brown, executive director of the CRC.
At risk populations including children and teens, people who are pregnant or nursing and those using prescription medicine are the main groups being targeted in the initiative, Brown said.
Other goals of the campaign are to prevent impaired driving, promote safe packaging of edibles and to encourage people to take advantage of cannabis delivery services, which will soon be more widely available in New Jersey. “Consuming edibles can be a very different experience for some than smoking cannabis, and ensuring that consumers understand labeling information such as potency, serving size and onset of effects...is crucial,” said Krista Nash, co-chair of the Commission’s public engagement and education committee.
Children are especially vulnerable to accidental exposure to edibles, especially when improperly stored. This is also due to many edibles from the underground market resembling candy, according to Dr. Diane Calello, medical executive director, New Jersey Poison Center. To prevent youth from getting their hands on these items, Calello recommended placing edibles in child-resistant containers with resealable closures Additionally, the center offers a 24/7 confidential help-line staffed by medical professionals to address questions and provide emergency support. “My 25 years in pediatric toxicology has taught me not to underestimate a child’s ability to get something that they want to eat,” Calello said. “Accidents only take a minute but safe packaging on cannabis products can buy the time needed to prevent a child from ingesting that entire package.”
Along with the state’s Poison Center, the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association and AAA Northeast also partnered with the commission to facilitate the self-use initiative.
Helen Hannigan, president of the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, a state-licensed maternal and child health consortium, highlighted that studies indicate an increase of cannabis use among pregnant and nursing individuals.
A sample advertisement that will be used in New Jersey's safe cannabis use campaign.
“There is evidence that cannabis can cause harm and negatively affect fetal infant and child development,” Hannigan said. “And there is no proof that cannabis is effective in the treatment of morning sickness.”
She added that those who are currently using cannabis and are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should stop using.
And, in collaboration with the CRC and the state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety, AAA will help distribute flyers to dispensaries, educating on the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis, according to Lauren Paterno, senior government affairs advisor for AAA Northeast.
CRC members provided attendees with sample cannabis products to showcase what a legal product’s packaging should look like. The packaging should list the name, ingredients, serving size, usage instructions, warnings, manufacturing details and a mandated universal symbol that all legal weed products in the state must have.
To ensure you’re getting safe product, Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association — the state’s largest cannabis trade group — encouraged individuals to obtain their edibles and other cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries.
“Unlike the illicit market, when the average consumer and patients make a purchase at a licensed facility, they know exactly what they are getting,” Rudder said.
Staff writer Gabby Warren contributed to this report.
Nyah Marshall may be reached at Nmarshall@njadvancemedia.com.