At the start of the year, New Yorkers were promised that cannabis legalization was on the agenda for lawmakers in the state and that the issue would be addressed in the early part 2019. Now, six months later we are finding that legislators are continuing to put off efforts to reform cannabis policy for numerous reasons. However, while lawmakers debate on the logistics, it appears that more than half of voters in the state are ready for legal marijuana. The latest poll from Siena College found that 55 percent of voters are in favor or cannabis legalization, while only 40 percent were opposed.
To no surprise, voters under 35 were the most supportive of legalization – with 75 percent in favor and only 23 percent opposed. In comparison. For those age age 55 and older, 54 percent of voters were against legalizing cannabis, with 42 percent in favor. Additionally, 77 percent of those who identified as liberal were in support of legal marijuana, while 53 percent of Republicans were against it.
“There continues to be support for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. It has strong support from Democrats and independents, while Republicans oppose it, albeit narrowly, 53-40%,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.
A CBS News poll from earlier this year found 65 percent of voters nationally support legalizing cannabis for adult use – only 10 percent higher than the overall support in the state of New York. When it comes to adults under 35, New Yorkers have a higher percentage of those supporting legalization, which is about 72 percent nationally. While those 55 and older in New York were more against legalization than they were for it, nationally it is a slightly closer call for that age group, at about 49 percent in support of legal cannabis.
Considering the split between traditionalists and progressive activists that make up the state of New York, it is only a matter of time before they get things together to move forward with legalization. However, it seems like it may not be coming just yet – and Illinois has now beat them to be the first to fully legalize adult-use (including commercial cultivation and sales) through legislature rather than via ballot initiative. However, that could also take some of the pressure off states like New York and New Jersey, who are both taking their time making good on promises long overdue regarding legalization.