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62% of New Jersey backs legal weed, Monmouth Poll says

Nearly 3/4 of state now backs expungement of criminal records for some marijuana possession

By David Wildstein, February 18 2019 11:00 am

A solid majority of New Jerseyans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new Monmouth University poll released this morning.

More than six out of ten New Jersey adults (62%) support legalizing small amounts of marijuana for person use, while 32% oppose it.

Those numbers are up from 59%-37% in an April 2018 Monmouth Poll and from 48%-47% in April 2014.

The poll numbers come just as there is movement on legislation that is the cornerstone of Gov. Phil Murphy’s legislative agenda.

The New Jersey Globe was first to report that Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney appear to have a deal on the legalized weed Friday evening.  Details of their agreement have not yet been released.

“We find widespread public support for legalizing marijuana, but the devil is in the details.  A question mark for some New Jerseyans is whether the state can set up an adequate regulatory system,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

New Jersey is less enthused by the current proposal, which would permit anyone over the age of 21 to buy small quantities of marijuana from a state licensed business.  Just half (50%) say the plan is a good idea and 34% don’t like it.

Still, those numbers are up significantly from the 2014 poll, an upside-down 36%-45%.

Nearly three-quarters of the state (74%) support the expungement  of criminal records for those previously convicted of possessing small amounts of weed.  Just 18% oppose it.

The number of New Jerseyans who think legal weed will help the economy is up eight points over the last ten months.

Almost seven out of ten (68%) say it will help, and just 11% view it as harmful.  That’s up from 60%-16% last April.

“A major reason for public support of the current proposal is the expectation it will boost tax revenues. The pressure is on, with nearby states also looking into legalization,” Murray said.  “New Jersey will need to stay ahead of the curve if it wants to maximize the expected economic benefits.”

New Jerseyans have different views about the impact of legalized marijuana on other drug crimes.  30% say it will lead to an increase, 32% view the measure as leading to a decrease, and 34% say there will be no impact.

Last April, the Monmouth Poll had the state at 32%-26%, with 39% saying no impact.

Most New Jersey residents who support legal weed (40%) say they want to boost the state’s tax revenue and economy, while 28% say possession of small amounts of pot should not be a crime and that prosecution wastes public resources.  Another 21% say marijuana, like alcohol, is not harmful, and 14% each cited medical benefit and that government regulation will make the pot safer.

Among those opposing legalized marijuana, 28% say it is harmful and addictive, 21% say people will drive under the influence and create more accidents, and 20% believe the new law would give minors more access to the drug.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from February 8-10 and has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

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