Support for legalizing marijuana is rising in New Jersey
Momentum is building in the Garden State for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, according to a survey released Friday by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind in conjunction with the New Jersey affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The poll revealed support has hit a new high.
"Right now, 41 percent of registered voters in New Jersey say they favor legalization for personal use with 46 percent opposed. This is the highest we've seen in our polls," said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science at FDU and director of PublicMind. "Support is up eight points since this question was last asked in January of 2014."
In the 2014 survey, 41 percent favored the legalization of marijuana and 52 percent opposed it. Forty-four percent of respondents in the new poll said they've tried marijuana. Of those who admit trying it, 7 in 10 support legalizing it, as compared to 29 percent who have never used it.
"It looks like the state's pendulum is swinging in the pro-legalization direction. A little more than a year-and-a-half ago a majority was clearly opposed and today that's just not the case," Jenkins said.
Demographic breakdown percentages included:
- 56 percent of men support pot legalization;
- 41 percent of women favor it;
- 53 of white respondents back the idea;
- 39 percent of non-whites support marijuana legalization; and
- 62 percent of millennials favor it.
"Raising the specter of not only legalization, but taxation and regulation doesn't do anything to move the needle. You can liken it to alcohol, but few are persuaded either way," Jenkins said.
Twelve percent who opposed legalization said they would change their minds if such regulations were put in place, but 83 percent said that wouldn't make a difference. Jenkins said support for legalizing pot hardly varied at all when respondents were asked a detailed question about support for it if was taxed and regulated.
"It's time we stopped making tens of thousands of arrests a year in New Jersey for an activity that the last 23 years of U.S. presidents have engaged in. It's time to end the failed status quo and replace it with a safe, controlled and regulated system of marijuana legalization," ACLU Executive Director Udi Ofer said in an emailed statement.
The poll was conducted by phone June 15-21, 2015 among a random statewide sample of 792 self-identified registered voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.7 points.