New Jersey residents are ready for adult-use cannabis even as it waits for the New Jersey Legislature to take up legislation.
Garden State residents favor completely legalizing the possession and personal use of recreational marijuana, 58 to 37 percent, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
“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 (ECPIP) 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.”
The results track with recent national polling.
A Gallup Poll conducted in early October likewise found 66 percent of all Americans favored the legalization of marijuana, and according to a Pew Research Center survey also released last month, 62 percent said the use of marijuana should be legalized.
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found:
- Half of all adults acknowledge having tried marijuana; one-quarter say they would consider using it if legalized.
- The vast majority of New Jerseyans believe the sale, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana would help the state’s economy; most (64 percent) say they would not be bothered if a store selling marijuana opened in their town.
- By a 45 percent to 12 percent margin, more people think marijuana is less rather than more harmful than alcohol.
The partisan divides persist among those polled, with Democrats and independents much more supportive – by double digits – on a number of marijuana-related items than Republicans. Nevertheless, nearly half of Republicans support legalization for personal use, seven in 10 either “strongly” or “somewhat” support erasing prior penalties for possession of a small amount, and six in 10 each favor taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana, as well as allowing the growth of marijuana 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.”
Results are from a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cellphones from Oct. 12-19. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.