New Jersey marijuana regulators have announced a new campaign to promote public health and safety around the state’s legalization law—an effort that, in part, will involve encouraging adults to use cannabis delivery services to mitigate the risk of impaired driving.
On Wednesday, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) unveiled what will be a year-long campaign involving distributing educational materials and promoting advertisements on issues such as preventing marijuana use during pregnancy, youth consumption and impaired driving awareness.
The “Cannabis Smart / Cannabis Safe” initiative comes more than a year after New Jersey’s adult-use market opened, with regulators and lawmakers taking various steps to build upon the reform with a focus on social equity and public safety.
“While the enabling legislation stipulates the Commission provide information to the public about safe and responsible cannabis consumption, we see safety and harm reduction messaging as more than legal obligation,” NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said in a press release on Wednesday. “Safety is one of the values—with equity—that we have embraced as part of our mission and duty to the public.”
One of the more notable aspects of the campaign concerns impaired driving. While each state that has legalized cannabis has emphasized that driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal, the regulatory commission will also be proactively urging consumers to order from delivery services if they’ve used marijuana and cannot responsibly and legally drive.
Applications for delivery service licenses, as well as other license types like wholesales, opened up last month. Regulators are starting by prioritizing people who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition enforcement.
While the state will be putting money toward advertising for other cannabis-related public health and safety issues, there won’t be ads “directly promoting delivery services,” a spokesperson for NJ-CRC told Marijuana Moment.
However, “the public relations and community outreach messaging that will co-occur with the ads will encourage alternatives to driving while impaired—one of which would be having cannabis products delivered by a retailer who offers delivery or, in the future, a delivery service,” she said.
Commissioner Krista Nash, co-chair of the panel’s Public Engagement and Education Committee, said during a press conference on Wednesday that members’ “top priority is the safety, health, and well-being of all New Jerseyans—whether they are cannabis consumers or not.”
“Launching this campaign demonstrates New Jersey’s dedication to responsible legalization, emphasizing safe use among adults, while protecting our youth and vulnerable populations,” she said.
A goal of the campaign is to “prevent impaired driving and encourage people to take advantage of delivery services which are currently permitted by dispensaries and will be more widely available as delivery service licenses are granted,” Nash said.
Beginning on October 16, New Jersey will begin to display digital billboards along major roadways, with posters containing cannabis public safety messages in salons and barber shops. There will also be advertising on streaming services and other online placements.
“We commend the NJ-CRC’s commitment to ensuring that cannabis users in New Jersey are educated and informed,” Dianne Calello, executive medical director at the New Jersey Poison Control Center, said at Wednesday’s event. “The majority of child-related exposures are attributable to edible products left out in the open or stored in easily accessible places, and many are illegal candy lookalikes.”
“Thanks to strict regulations on packaging and sales, legal products in New Jersey are safer, but no package is completely child-proof so I appreciate this campaign’s driving home the message that safe storage is key,” she said.
Here are some examples of the educational materials and advertisements the commission will be publicizing and distributing:
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced last week that it will be awarding $12 million in grant money to 48 licensed cannabis operators to help them start and expand their businesses. It’s part of the state’s effort to remove barriers to entry to the legal industry, especially among people from communities disproportionately harmed by the drug war.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin (D) separately announced that the state is making $5.5 million available, funded by marijuana tax revenue, to support a hospital-based violence intervention grants program.
As of last month, state regulators began accepting public comments on a proposal that would create a new permit to allow “clinically focused” dispensaries to enter into partnerships with research institutions to carry out cannabis studies using products that they grow or sell to patients.
Separately, there have been some questions about the current supply of cannabis in the state as consumers face high prices, which have been criticized by regulators. It’s possible that the forthcoming delivery service, wholesaler and distributor licensing expansion could help address the issue.
Read a pamphlet with “safe use tips” that New Jersey officials will be distributing below:
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.