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New Jerseyans back referendum to legalize weed by huge margin, new poll shows

Monmouth University poll shows 64% of New Jersey supports legalization of recreational marijuana

By David Wildstein, April 23 2020 10:00 am

A November referendum to legalize marijuana in small amounts for personal use leads by a 64%-32% margin, according to a new Monmouth University poll released this morning.

Support is up three points from a February 2019 Monmouth Poll and up 16 points from when the same question was asked in 2014.

Legalizing marijuana to boost New Jersey’s revenues has been one of the cornerstones of Gov. Phil Murphy’s economic plans for the state, but the legislature has resisted efforts to pass it.  The November referendum is the result of a compromise between Murphy and the legislative leadership.

Supporters and opponents of legal cannabis still have their work cut out for them.

Slightly less than half of the state (48%) think it’s a good idea to allow anyone over age 21 to purchase small quantities of marijuana for personal use from businesses that have been licensed by the state to sell cannabis.  While 30 of New Jerseyans view the plan as a bad idea, nearly one-quarter of the state (22%) still have no opinion.

“Support for the marijuana ballot measure is widespread in part because many who have no opinion on whether legalization is a good idea figure they might as well vote for it,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Democrats back the referendum to legalize cannabis by a substantial 74%-24%, and it passes among independents by a 64%-30%.  The GOP is still not sold on marijuana legalization, with 55% of Republicans opposing the measure and 40% supporting it.

The referendum passes in all regions of the state without difficulty: 61%-35% in North Jersey, 60%-36% in Central Jersey, and 62%-33% in South Jersey.  It does just slightly better in competitive congressional districts (62%-37%) than in safe districts (60%-33%), but the difference between the two is statistically insignificant.

Men support passage of the marijuana legalization referendum by a 63%-32 margin, while it’s a just marginally tougher sell among women (59%-37%).  The measure gains approval from 60% of white residents and 64% among New Jerseyans of color.

Support for the referendum does best among New Jersey residents ages 18 to 34 (78%-18%) and ages 35 to 54 (62%-34%), but among those over the age of 55, the referendum is a nearly even 48% yes and 46% no.

More than six out of ten New Jerseyans (62%) believe legal weed would help the state’s economy, while 10% think it would hurt it.  Another 21% say it would have no impact at all and 7% do not know.
By a 55%-19% margin, even Republicans acknowledge that legal weed would boost New Jersey’s economy.  That number is 69%-5% among Democrats and 60%-11% among independents.

New Jersey residents are mixed on their view of legal weed’s effect on other drug crimes.  27% say they would increase, 22% think they would decrease, and 46% view the legalization of recreational cannabis as having no impact.

In 2019, Murphy’s administration projected legal weed would generate $60 million in tax revenue between January and June of this year if passed.

Murphy said last month that he had not discussed pushing through marijuana legalization ahead of a November referendum in order to secure additional revenues in the face of a fiscal downturn over the COVID-19 crisis.

“Marijuana I haven’t really talked about. I wish we already had it, frankly, because it would be a source of revenue, putting aside the social injustices, which would have been addressed,” Murphy said on March 26. “We’re late to it, mostly for social injustices, but could we use the revenue right now? Yes. But I don’t think we’ve had any discussions — I know I haven’t — about moving it forward.”

The bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use languished and eventually died last year after Senate Democrats failed to secure 21 votes to pass it, and both chambers of the legislature have since voted to put legalization on the ballot for 2020, with a lower tax rate than was present in last year’s legalization bill.

Legislators had begun pushing decriminalization as a stop-gap measure, but that plan has also been disrupted by the ongoing crisis.

The Monmouth University poll was conducted April 16-19 with a random sample of 604 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

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