A majority of registered voters in New Jersey responding to a Monmouth University survey said they will vote to legalize adult-use marijuana in an upcoming ballot initiative this November.
Sixty-one percent of 700 respondents to the poll – which also asked voters their opinions on the benefits and pitfalls of marijuana legalization – said they were in favor of amending New Jersey’s constitution to permit cannabis possession for adults 21 and older, and to establish a legal framework for marijuana production and retail sales. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they will vote against the initiative, with the remaining respondents unsure which way they will vote.
New Jersey lawmakers moved to put the question to voters on the 2020 ballot after attempts to pass such a measure through the Senate failed. The marijuana legalization ballot question, as approved by lawmakers earlier this year, will ask voters the following:
“Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.”
Monmouth University found that support for legalizing adult-use marijuana in New Jersey is split along political partisan lines. Support for the measure is highest among Democrat voters (74 percent) and Independents (64 percent), while only 40 percent of Republican voters said they will vote in favor of the proposal.
When it comes to the economic impact of adult-use cannabis sales in New Jersey, respondents from across the political divide are more aligned in their thinking. Sixty-nine percent of Democrat respondents think the move would “help the state’s economy,” with 61 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Republicans in agreement as well.
The measure enjoys especially strong support among younger voters with 78 percent of 18-34 year old respondents set to back the ballot initiative. Support drops to 62 percent for those aged 35-54, and dips again to 48 percent among those 55 and older.
With regards to marijuana legalization’s impact on crime, 46 percent of respondents said it would have no impact, with 27 percent believing legal cannabis would cause more drug crimes. Twenty-two percent of respondents to this question said marijuana legalization would lead to a drop in drug crimes.
On the simple question of permitting individuals 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis, 64 percent of respondents were in favor. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently moved to decriminalize cannabis possession and expunge cannabis-related criminal records after efforts to pass broader marijuana reform stalled. But while the poll indicates that New Jersey voters are broadly comfortable with marijuana possession, only 48 percent of respondents said permitting adults to purchase cannabis from a licensed retailer – which is what the ballot initiative’s approval would achieve – is a good idea. Thirty-two percent said it was a bad idea, with 22 percent unsure.
South Dakota and Arizona also look set for an adult-use marijuana legalization ballot question this November. So far, eleven US states plus Washington, D.C. have ended cannabis prohibition, and all but two of these jurisdictions did so via a ballot measure.