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New Jersey Residents Say Right To Use Marijuana At Home Outweighs Right Not To Smell Neighbor’s Use, Poll Shows



More than a year into marijuana legalization in New Jersey, people say they’re definitely noticing the smell of cannabis—but most aren’t bothered by it, according to a new poll. The survey also shows that far more people believe driving under the influence of alcohol to be “very dangerous” than say the same about getting behind the wheel after consuming marijuana.

About half of adults in the state report having smelled marijuana from a neighboring house or apartment, according to the poll from Stockton University’s Hughes Center for Public Policy. But more respondents said they think the right to use legal marijuana in one’s own home (31 percent) is more important than the right not to have to smell cannabis being used by a neighbor (16 percent).

Nearly half of participants (46 percent) said they thought the two rights were equally important.

People aren’t smelling marijuana all the time, of course: 14 percent said they smelled it coming from a neighbor often, 15 percent said it happened sometimes and 21 percent said it was rare. Another 49 percent said they never smell neighbors’ cannabis consumption.

Meanwhile 57 percent of New Jersey adults said they’ve smelled marijuana in public places either often (28 percent) or sometimes (29 percent). A third (32 percent) said they smell it rarely in public, while just 9 percent said they never have.

“Not much thought was given to the issue of the smell of marijuana becoming part of the public landscape in New Jersey,” John Froonjian, director of the Hughes Center, said in a Wednesday press release about the survey. “There are hardly any places to legally consume these products, so people are lighting up in parks, at festivals, in parking lots and on the street.”

Of all respondents, 90 percent said they were able to identify the smell of marijuana. And a majority (52 percent) said it doesn’t bother them at all. Another 19 percent said it bothers them “a great deal” while 28 percent said it bothers them somewhat.

While the new survey captures a snapshot of New Jerseyans’ experience since legalization, the report is silent on the degree to which residents smelled or were bothered by cannabis use prior to legalization.

Views on some questions varied considerably based on whether or not a person had consumed cannabis products in the past year. Among people who had, for example, 55 percent felt that the right to use legal marijuana in one’s home outweighed a neighbor’s right to not have to smell it in theirs. Among people who didn’t consume marijuana, just 21 percent felt that way.

Strong majorities of both groups, however—75 percent of cannabis consumers and 91 percent of nonusers—agreed that driving while high is dangerous. And most (52 percent and 81 percent of consumers and nonconsumers, respectively) believe it’s important to have a roadside test to determine a driver’s level of impairment.

New Jersey marijuana survey results by cannabis consumption

Stockton University

The development of a roadside drug test was more important to Republicans, 62 percent of whom said it was very important compared to 42 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents.

Of all respondents, 39 percent said they knew somebody who has driven while under the influence of marijuana, and 56 percent said they did not.

Respondents seemed to feel that cannabis presents less of a danger than driving drunk. Fifty-one percent of respondents said driving while high on marijuana is extremely dangerous, while 90 percent said that of drunk driving.

Froonjian said in Stockton’s press release that driving under the influence of any substance “is a bad idea that causes accidents,” adding that responsible users “must avoid driving while high on weed.”

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission this week unveiled a campaign to, in part, encourage adults to use cannabis delivery services to mitigate the risk of impaired driving.

Commissioner Krista Nash, co-chair of the panel’s Public Engagement and Education Committee, said during a press conference on Wednesday that members’ “top priority is the safety, health, and well-being of all New Jerseyans—whether they are cannabis consumers or not.”

Applications for delivery service licenses, as well as other license types like wholesales, opened up last month. Regulators are starting by prioritizing people who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition enforcement.

Regulators also recently voted to allow THC-infused products such as brownies and edibles and have proposed allowing dispensaries to partner with research institutions to use real-world marijuana products in studies.

The state recently awarded $12 million in grant money to 48 licensed cannabis operators to help them start and expand their businesses, part of an effort to remove barriers to entry to the legal industry, especially among people from communities disproportionately harmed by the drug war.

New Jersey officials also recently announced the availability of $5.5 million in marijuana revenue to support a hospital-based violence intervention grants program.

New Interactive Federal Map Shows How States Rely On Marijuana Tax Revenue To Fund Public Services

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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