According to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll, New Jersey residents are divided on whether marijuana should be legalized, and are not convinced that a recent proposal in the state legislature to legalize marijuana use is a good idea. The poll finds that most state residents say that alcohol and tobacco pose greater dangers than marijuana. This poll is considered the first Garden State poll on the topic since State Senator Nick Scutari introduced a marijuana legalization bill.
When asked whether the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use should be made legal, New Jersey residents are split down the middle with just under half (48%) in support and an almost identical number (47%) opposed. The poll states that these numbers are similar to national trends, with an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in January finding 49% in favor and 48% opposed.
The poll results also demonstrate clear differences in opinion based on varied demographics. Poll data shows that democrats and independents are slightly more in favor of legalization than republicans. There are also significant differences in support across age and gender groups; New Jersey men are more likely than women to support marijuana, while younger adults under the age of 35 are more likely to support legalizing pot when compared to older residents.
Asked whether a bill allowing people over the age of 21 to purchase small amounts of marijuana from licensed state businesses, only 36% of New Jersey residents think it’s a good idea while just under half (45%) think it’s a bad idea. 18% had no opinion.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute summarized some of this in his news release about the poll:
“The marijuana debate has been engaged and neither side has the distinct advantage right now. There isn’t a lot of support for the Scutari proposal, but most people actually see alcohol and tobacco as bigger dangers.”
Murray suggests that perhaps some of the opposition may simply be a reaction against legalizing something that has been illicit for so long.
The poll was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from March 30th to April 1st, 2014, with a reported margin of error supporting the summary findings. New Jersey is split on the issue. It is now important to help educate everyone on the facts. Only be removing some of the stigma of drug addiction, which is already happening in New Jersey, will we gain access to the truth about drug abuse, addiction, and the role marijuana appears to play in drug addiction and treatment.