Following reports of children accidentally consuming cannabis edibles and requiring medical intervention, Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-Wyckoff) is pushing for the legislature to take up his bill requiring marijuana products to be stored in locked containers.
“If adults choose to purchase legally distributed cannabis products, that is their prerogative under the new state law, but they must be held accountable to prevent these products from getting into the hands of children who could unknowingly consume unsafe amounts and cause health issues,” Rooney said in a statement.
The bill does not apply, however, to a number of other controlled substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs that could be harmful to children if left unsecured; it also does not contain any clear guidelines for enforcement.
Rooney justified the bill’s narrow focus on weed by saying that many New Jerseyans are unfamiliar with marijuana and may not have safety procedures in place, whereas they are more comfortable handling alcohol or prescription drugs.
“Since it is new, and since it is coming in the form of gummies and brownies and cookies and things along those lines, we’re not seeing parents being responsible enough at this point to lock up those dangerous substances,” he told the New Jersey Globe.
Rooney added that a more sweeping bill covering alcohol and other substances “would go nowhere” in the legislature, but his more limited cannabis bill has a chance of getting the Democratic support necessary for passage.
Marijuana was legalized in New Jersey in February 2021, but there have been a number of hiccups since then in figuring out exactly how it will become available and to whom. Recreational marijuana sales only began a few months ago, and several issues – such as whether off-duty cops should be permitted to partake in legal weed – remain topics of dispute.
As the legislature has debated marijuana laws, it’s also pondered a number of new gun restrictions, including one that closely parallels Rooney’s marijuana storage bill: the Safe Storage of Firearms Act, which would require firearms to be unloaded and stored in locked containers. When that bill came up for a committee vote last year, Rooney voted against it.
“In the Constitution, it speaks in the Second Amendment about the right to bear arms,” Rooney said of his no vote. “I’ve read the Constitution many times, and there’s nothing in there about the legalization of marijuana.”