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New York Marijuana Legalization Support Is Higher Now Than Ever Before, Poll Finds



New York voters support legalizing marijuana by a nearly two-to-one ratio, according to a new poll released on Tuesday.

The Siena College survey found that 60 percent of registered voters in the state back legalizing cannabis, compared to 32 percent who oppose the reform. That’s up significantly from February, when a poll showed support for ending marijuana prohibition ahead by a margin of 55 percent to 40 percent.

The new finding is “the strongest support legalization has ever had in a Siena College poll,” the school said in a press release.

Nearly every demographic across age, party, regional and racial lines has majority or plurality support for legalizing cannabis.

As has historically been the case, those who identify as Democrats were more likely to back the policy change (63 percent) compared to Republicans (48 percent). Sixty-eight percent of independents said they favor legalization.

The only demographic surveyed where opposition exceeded support was for ideologically conservative respondents, who are against legalization, 44 percent to 50 percent.

A separate survey released last month by Spectrum News and Ipsos similarly found that 61 percent of New Yorkers back the reform, compared to 30 percent who oppose it.

Legalization could become more than an idea in the Empire State next year, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and top lawmakers have indicated that the reform will be prioritized.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said on Monday that “it’s not so much a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and it’s a matter of how” the state legalizes cannabis for adult use.

While there are still outstanding provisions that need to be negotiated—principally concerning how tax revenue is allocated—the senator made clear that the legislature is positioned to advance the issue, especially since New Jersey voters approved a legalization referendum this month.

Cuomo said earlier this month that the “pressure will be on” to legalize marijuana in the state and lawmakers will approve it “this year” to offset economic losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor has included cannabis legalization in his last two annual budget proposals, but negotiations have consistently stalled over the details. A top aide said last month that the administration plans to give it another try in 2021 and the governor confirmed in a separate recent interview that he felt the reform would be accomplished “soon.”

Election Day also gave the Senate a supermajority of Democrats, meaning they will have more leverage to pass a legalization bill as they see fit because lawmakers could potentially override a veto if Cuomo takes issue with the details of the proposal.

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Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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