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New Jersey backs legalization of marijuana, poll says

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: 64% say they would not be upset if store selling weed opens in their town

By David Wildstein, October 30 2018 12:01 am

New Jersey supports the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by a solid 58%-37% margin, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released this morning.

Nearly one-third of those who now support cannabis legalization said they have changed their minds after once opposing it.  And 79% of people support allowing those previously convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana should be permitted to clear their records.

Half of all adults admit that they have tried marijuana, and one-quarter said they might use it if it’s legal.

Most people (64%) think the sale, regulation and taxation of recreation marijuana would boost to New Jersey’s economy.  More than six out of ten (64%) New Jerseyans would not be upset if a marijuana dispensary opened in their hometown.

“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  “Support has built up slowly in the past five decades, with this being the first time a majority has ever sided with legalization. New Jerseyans are now almost three times as likely to support it as they were in 1971.”

Republicans are becoming increasingly supportive of legal weed, but a partisan divide on the issue still exists; Democrats and Independents are more supportive, by double digits.

Almost half of Republicans back legalization for personal use, and seven out of ten support erasing past criminal records for procession of a small amount of marijuana.  Six out of ten support taxing and regulating cannabis sales, as well as permitting growth in private residences.

“Support for marijuana legalization has almost doubled among Republicans in the past few years alone,” said Koning. “There has certainly been a liberalization of attitudes regarding marijuana across partisans of all stripes – though to varying degrees – as legalization efforts move ahead.”

Men and young voters are most supportive.  Millennials are twice as likely as those over age 65 to support legalization, 74%-37%.  Senior citizens are the most likely of any age group to say they have changed their mind from opposition to support (36%).

By a 45%-12% margin, New Jerseyans think marijuana is less rather than more harmful than alcohol.  More than half (57%) believe legalization will help areas of New Jersey with high arrest records for marijuana use.

A national Gallup Poll conducted in early October likewise found 66 percent of all American Americans favor he legalization of marijuana, Koning said.

New Jerseyans think residents should be allowed to grow marijuana for their personal use.  60% oppose a ban on private residents from cultivating cannabis, while 33% support a ban.

“Today, yet another poll demonstrates the growing support for ending cannabis prohibition and establishing a responsible and regulated industry in the Garden State,” said Scott Rudder, the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association president.  “These polls show that attitudes towards legalizing cannabis, a healthier alternative to alcohol and many prescription drugs, is what New Jerseyans want to see. It’s time for our leaders in Trenton to hammer out their differences on cannabis legislation and get this ball moving forward. The human toll of the War on Cannabis is far too great to drag this out any longer.”

Rutgers-Eagleton conducted a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from Oct. 12-19. The margin of error of +/-3.6%.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 9:24 AM to include comment from Scott Rudder.

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll - Marijuana in NJ - Oct 30 2018
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