NJ Poll: Yes To Recreational Marijuana

Jeffrey King asks the freeholders for more understanding and compassion for medical marijuana users. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

NEW JERSEY – A recently released poll showed more New Jerseyans generally support the legalization of recreational marijuana.

With a margin of 58 to 37 percent in favor, the October Rutgers-Eagleton Poll showed more state residents favor than oppose legalizing the drug for personal use.

Even with growing support, the state legislature has yet to finalize recreational legalization. They were to vote Oct. 29, but the legislature and Gov. Phil Murphy can’t agree on the language of the proposed bill, according to multiple news sources.

Top state leadership said to expect a vote before the end of the year.

“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, said. “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 Rutgers-Eagelton Poll spoke with 1,006 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from Oct. 12-19.

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The poll found that

  • Opinions on legalization have shifted: one-third who used to oppose its legalization now support it.
  • Seventy-nine percent believed that individuals penalized for possessing a small amount of pot should have their records cleared.
  • Half of all adults have tried marijuana. Twenty-five percent would use it if it were legalized.
  • Most believed the sale, regulation and taxation of marijuana would help the state’s economy.
  • Sixty-four percent would be unbothered if a marijuana retailer opened in their town.
  • More people think alcohol is more harmful than pot.
  • Democrats and independents are more in favor of recreational marijuana legalization, although more Republicans are supporting it.
  • Millennials (18-29 year olds) are more supportive of its legalization than seniors (65+).

A national Gallup Poll from early October found 66 percent of all Americans favored the legalization of marijuana, Konig said.

Municipalities around Ocean County haven’t embraced the sale of recreational marijuana. Ahead of any movement by the state, towns across the shore have banned the sale: Barnegat, Beachwood, and Berkeley are among the list that said no to its sale.

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has also sided against recreational marijuana legalization.