Rutgers-Eagleton: Most New Jerseyans support regulated marijuana legalization

A clear majority of New Jerseyans supports legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today. Just under one-third of residents strongly support making marijuana use legal, assuming it would be taxed and regulated, while another 26 percent somewhat support the idea. Twelve percent are somewhat opposed while 27 percent are strongly opposed.

An April 2014 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found that while about two-thirds in New Jersey favored eliminating marijuana possession penalties, just 49 percent supported “completely legalizing” the drug.

“The trend in New Jersey mirrors the nation as support for legalizing marijuana continues to grow,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The question we asked this year is more specific than in the past, specifying that legalization would come with taxes and regulation and would apply to adults 21 and over. That likely accounts for some of the jump from 49 percent support a year ago to 58 percent today. But no matter how it is asked, we have seen a long-term upward trend in support.”

Most New Jerseyans do not consider legalization a priority. While 20 percent call legalization of marijuana a “very important” issue, more than twice as many Garden State residents (45 percent) say it is “not very important.” The rest are in the middle, with 22 percent calling this issue “somewhat important” and 12 percent saying it is “somewhat unimportant.”

New Jersey state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-22) has introduced a bill legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults. Senate Bill 1896 and its companion in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) create a system similar to Colorado’s, with marijuana regulated like alcohol at every step of the production and sales process.

“More than 22,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010 at a cost of more than $125 million dollars,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “But this poll shows a significant majority of New Jerseyans believe in changing this policy so marijuana can be legally taxed and regulated for adults, the same as alcohol.”

The questions about marijuana were developed in consultation with the NJ office of the Drug Policy Alliance. The marijuana support question was the subject of an experiment where some respondents were randomly prompted that marijuana would be regulated “like alcohol,” while others were not. Analyses show that the variation in the question made no significant difference; accordingly this release reports on both versions combined.

Results are from a statewide poll of 860 residents contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from Mar. 27 – Apr. 3, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points. Interviews were completed in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Rutgers-Eagleton: Most New Jerseyans support regulated marijuana legalization