New Jersey poll strong support marijuana legalization

New Jersey’s recreational marijuana legalization ballot measure is on course for a thumping victory on November 3, according to the latest poll.

The Stockton University Polling Institute reports 66 percent of likely voters who responded to its survey said they support the constitutional amendment legalizing adult-use cannabis in the state, while only 23 percent said they are opposed. Excluding the ‘don’t knows,’ that would mean supporters of marijuana legalization in New Jersey outnumber opponents by three to one.

The latest findings are consistent with previous polls on the issue. In May, a Monmouth University survey found 61 percent of respondents intended to vote for legal cannabis, while more recent polls have put support for the measure at 61 percent and 65 percent.

In line with other marijuana legalization polls, Stockton reported the measure as especially popular among younger voters while Democrats tended to be more supportive than Republicans.

“We found that support for the amendment to legalize steadily decreased as age increased,” said Alyssa Maurice, a research associate at the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy. “Among 18-29 year old respondents, 88% said they supported it. Among 30-49 year-olds, 76% supported. 60% of 50-64 year-olds and 52% of those 65 and older did.”

“There was also stronger support among those who identify as Democrats (76%) than Republicans (52%),” she added.

The poll comprised interviews with 721 likely voters taken between October 7 and 13. Nine percent of respondents said they had no position on the issue, one percent said they did not know whether they supported or opposed the measure and the remaining one percent refused to give an answer. Stockton reports the poll’s margin of error as plus/minus 3.7 percentage points.

Polls showing consistent strong majorities for marijuana legalization in New Jersey doesn’t mean the measure isn’t without opposition. Gregg Edwards of Don’t Let NJ Go To Pot said he’s struggled to get his group’s message across because of the pandemic and that he doesn’t believe the polls accurately reflect voter opinion on the issue.

“If this issue were so popular, we wouldn’t be having this vote,” Edwards said. “The legislature would have passed the bill a year and a half ago […] They couldn’t do it, so there clearly were legislators who believed that this was not a popular thing for them to do.”

Edwards’ take rests on how well the New Jersey Senate represents the will of the people of New Jersey. A bill to legalize marijuana stalled in the senate last year. This led Gov. Phil Murphy, who made cannabis legalization a central part of his election campaign, to turn to the ballot process.

“I wish we could have gotten it done through a legislative process,” Murphy said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics. “We just couldn’t find the last few votes, so it’s on the referendum. I’m strongly supporting it—first and foremost for social justice reasons.”

Gov. Murphy also recently described the measure as a “no-brainer” with respect to aiding the state’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Jersey voters aren’t the only ones in the country to have their say on marijuana legalization ballot proposals at this year’s elections. Three other states – Arizona, Montana and South Dakota – will decide whether or not to legalize adult-use cannabis, while Mississippi will vote on two separate medical marijuana proposals and South Dakota will also vote on a separate medical cannabis measure. Unlike perhaps in New Jersey, these ballot initiatives are more likely to go right down to the wire.

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