A majority of registered voters in New Jersey are in favor of a proposal to legalize marijuana for adult use that will appear on the state’s November ballot, according to a poll released Thursday.
Monmouth University’s survey asked respondents to weigh in on the cannabis legalization referendum question that lawmakers placed on ballot and to give their opinions on the potential risks and benefits of the policy change.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they would vote in support of the proposal, while 34 percent said they’d vote against it.
That means the issue is more popular, and stands to receive more votes, than President Trump, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)—all of whom will appear on the same ballot as the marijuana question. Asked how they would vote if the election were today, 38 percent said they’d vote for Trump, 54 percent would go with Biden and, for the Senate race, 58 percent would vote Booker.
Crosstabs of the survey show that support for the measure is highest among Democratic respondents (74 percent). Sixty-four percent of independents and 40 percent of Republicans said they’d vote in favor of the referendum.
As has historically been the case, the issue is most popular among young people 18-34. Seventy-eight percent of that demographic backs the legalization question, while 62 percent of those 35-54 and 48 percent of those 55 and older support the policy.
The survey also generally asked about allowing individuals 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis, and 64 percent said they did, compared to 32 percent who said they oppose it.
Interestingly, only a 48 percent plurality of New Jersey residents said in response to a separate question that it’s a good idea in to let adults purchase marijuana from a licensed retailer—which is what the referendum would accomplish. Thirty percent said it was a bad idea and 22 percent said they didn’t have an opinion.
FOR by PARTY
DEM – 74%
IND – 64%
REP – 40%
6-in-10 state voters have supported legal marijuana since 2018.https://t.co/RxtyKTTDNq
— MonmouthPoll (@MonmouthPoll) April 23, 2020
“Support for the marijuana ballot measure is widespread in part because many who have no opinion on whether legalization is a good idea figure they might as well vote for it,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a press release.
A sizable majority of respondents (62 percent) from across the political spectrum said establishing a legal cannabis market would “help the state’s economy.” That includes 69 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans.
The poll, which involved interviews with about 700 registered voters from April 16 to 19, also asked voters whether they felt legalization would “lead to an increase in other drug crimes, lead to a decrease in other drug crimes, or have no impact on the number of other drug crimes.”
Twenty-seven percent said it would drive additional drug crimes and 22 percent said it would cause a decrease, but most (46 percent) said it would have no impact.
In December, the New Jersey legislature voted in favor of a resolution to put the question of marijuana legalization to voters as a referendum on the ballot. That action came after lawmakers failed to enact the reform legislatively due to disagreements over certain provisions of legislation that had advanced through committees.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who campaigned on and supports legalization, signed a bill in August 2019 that’s designed to streamline the expungement process for people with prior cannabis convictions.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan