Four years ago, Jersey residents were evenly split on the idea of legalizing marijuana. But a new survey finds a majority of folks are now in favor of it.

The latest Monmouth University Polling Institute poll finds that 59 percent support legalizing possession of a small amount of marijuana. Four years ago, just 48 percent supported that.

The poll finds 65 percent Democrats support legalizing pot along with 60 percent of independents and 45 percent of Republicans.

Gov. Phil Murphy supports the idea of legalizing marijuana, but some lawmakers have voiced concerns.

“The big argument is that it’s going to be an economic benefit to the state with the expectation that there are probably going to be few drawbacks,” said poll director Patrick Murray.

“New Jerseyans look around and see it being legalized in other places and say that this is going to be a boon to our economy," he said, pointing to the 60 percent who think legalization will help the economy.

 

Just 32 percent feel that legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in other drug crimes, 26 percent say  it would decrease other drug crimes and 39 percent say it will have no impact.

While many New Jerseyans aren’t concerned about a possible negative of marijuana, the poll finds 86 percent are worried about the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

At the same time 59 percent of New Jerseyans say the state is not doing enough to deal with this crisis.

Murray noted what’s interesting is that many Garden State residents separate the issue of legal marijuana from opioids, even though some argue that making pot legal would open the floodgates to other drug problems.

“Most of New Jersey doesn’t connect those two (ideas) together," Murray said.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from April 6 to 10 by telephone. A total of 703 adults were interviewed. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com