While four states will soon see their opportunity to legalize cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes through voter approved ballot initiatives, some states do not have this option open to them. In other states, lawmakers are considering acting before the citizens do. New Jersey is one state where those with the power to change the law have significantly shifted their views on legalization recently, and top officials have announced that they expect a vote on the subject before the end of the year.
When lawmakers are finally ready to move on legalization, chances are the citizens of the state have spoken loudly and made their expectations on the subject clear: end failed prohibition, usher in regulation and legalization. In New Jersey, recent polls show that support has grown significantly in the last several months, with most residents now in favor of legalization.
“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, said. “Support has built up slowly in the past five decades, with this being the first time a majority has ever sided with legalization. New Jerseyans are now almost three times as likely to support it as they were in 1971.”
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll contacted 1,006 adults from October 12-19th and asked a series of questions related to cannabis legalization. They found that 58 percent of New Jersey residents supported legalization – which is up from the 49 percent found back in April by both a Stockton University poll and a previous Rutgers poll. This is also very close to the 60 percent found earlier this year by a Monmouth University survey. All of this information strongly suggests that residents of the state are more than prepared – and may even welcome – the switch from prohibition to legalization.
The survey also addressed situations that come along with legalization, and 79 percent of residents believe that individuals who had been penalized for possessing small amounts of cannabis should have their records cleared should the plant become legal. It also found that half of all adults in New Jersey have at least tried marijuana, while 25 percent say that they would use it if it were legal to do so.
Typical of such polls, information collected also showed that not only do Democrats and Independents favor legalization, but that Republicans are beginning to support it, too. It also appears, based on the data, that millennials are more supportive than seniors, though support is growing there as well.
Overall, it appears that residents are indeed “on board” for legalization – whenever lawmakers get around to finalizing and voting on such legislation. If things go as expected, New Jersey residents could be celebrating the demise of prohibition as early as the end of this year. If not, it’s bound to be early in 2019 with support growing as rapidly as it has.