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Support for Legal Weed Stays High

Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

Public sees tax revenue boon; backs expungement

West Long Branch, NJ – The Monmouth University Poll finds more than 6-in-10 New Jersey residents support legalizing marijuana and half say a current proposal to make that happen in the Garden State is a good idea.  The number of people who say that legalization will help the state’s economy and lead to a decrease in other drug crimes has ticked up over the past year. Three-quarters of the public also support the opportunity for those with past possession convictions to expunge their records.

Most New Jersey adults (62%) currently support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use while 32% oppose this.  These numbers are in line with the 59% – 37% split recorded in a Monmouth poll last year. However, statewide support for legalization is higher than five years ago when it stood at 48% in favor and 47% opposed.  Marijuana legalization receives support from most Democrats (72%) and independents (61%), but less than half of Republicans (47%).  By age, support stands at 81% among those 18 to 34 years old and at just over half among those age 35 to 54 (56%) and age 55 or older (53%).

“We find widespread public support for legalizing marijuana, but the devil is in the details.  A question mark for some New Jerseyans is whether the state can set up an adequate regulatory system,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Public support is a little softer, but still positive, on a legislative proposal to allow anyone over the age of 21 to purchase small quantities of marijuana for their own personal use from businesses that have been licensed by the state. Half (50%) say this is a good idea while 34% say it is a bad idea. Another 17% are unsure. The number of New Jerseyans who view this proposal as a good idea has jumped 14 points since 2014 when it was 36%, while the number who say it is a bad idea has fallen by 11 points from 45%.

Among those who say this legalization proposal is a good idea, 40% cite increased tax revenue and economic gains as a key reason for their support. Another 28% say prosecuting marijuana possession and jailing users wastes resources, 21% say that marijuana use is not harmful or at least no more so than alcohol and 14% cite medical benefits to using marijuana. Other reasons why people think it is a good idea include the idea that legalizing marijuana will provide more control over its use (14%), that there’s no way to stop its use anyway so it might as well be made legal (8%), and the fact that other states are already legalizing it (5%).

Among those who say the legalization proposal is a bad idea, 28% feel marijuana use is harmful or addictive, 9% see it as a gateway drug, while 21% cite a potential increase in car accidents and driving under its influence. Another 20% worry that minors will get access to marijuana and 12% say its use is bad for society and will lead to other crime.  Other reasons why people think it is a bad idea include decreased productivity at work (6%), difficulty in regulating it (6%), it is only being done for the tax revenue (5%) and that it should be limited to medical use (5%).

“A major reason for public support of the current proposal is the expectation it will boost tax revenues. The pressure is on, with nearby states also looking into legalization.  New Jersey will need to stay ahead of the curve if it wants to maximize the expected economic benefits,” said Murray.

Two-in-three New Jerseyans (68%) believe that legalizing marijuana would boost the state’s economy, up from 60% who said the same last year. Just 11% feel it would hurt the economy and 16% say it would have no impact.  Democrats are even more likely to forecast economic benefits now (82%) than they were last year (68%).  Nearly 2-in-3 independents (65%) agree, similar to the 60% who felt this way last year.  Half of Republicans (51%) predict economic benefits from legalization, which is about the same as last year (50%).

About 3-in-10 Garden State residents (29%) feel that legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in other types of drug crime, which is similar to 32% of the public who held this opinion last year. On the other hand, 32% say it will actually lead to a decrease in those offenses which is up slightly from 26%. Another 34% say marijuana legalization would have no impact on the rate of other drug crimes, compared to 39% who said it would have no impact in April 2018.  New Jerseyans age 55 or older are more likely to feel that marijuana legalization will lead to an increase (42%) rather than decrease (14%) in other drug crimes.  Younger adults age 18 to 34 feel the opposite (9% increase and 56% decrease).  Those age 35 to 54 are divided between saying it would increase (34%) or decrease (28%) other drug crimes.

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that most New Jerseyans (74%) support giving people who were previously convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana the opportunity to clear those charges from their record. Another 18% would oppose this even if New Jersey were to legalize recreational use of marijuana.  Support for expungement comes from sizable majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (73%), and Republicans (64%), as well as those age 18 to 34 (81%), age 35 to 54 (74%), and age 55 or older (67%).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from February 8 to 10, 2019 with 604 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1 held for future release.]
[Q2-12 previously released.]

13. Overall, do you support or oppose legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use?

 TREND:Feb.
2019
April
2018
April
2014
Support62%59%48%
Oppose32%37%47%
(VOL) Don’t know5%5%6%
   (n)(604)(703)(803)

14. There is currently a proposal in New Jersey to allow anyone over the age of 21 to purchase small quantities of marijuana for their own use from businesses that have been licensed by the state government to sell marijuana. Do you think this is a good idea or bad idea, or do you have no opinion on it?

 TREND:Feb.
2019
April
2014
Good idea50%36%
Bad idea34%45%
No opinion17%18%
   (n)(604)(803)

[Question 14A was asked of those who said GOOD/BAD IDEA.]

14A. Why do you think it is a [good/bad] idea?  [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

 IF GOOD  [moe=+/-5.7%]Feb.
2019
Tax revenue, economy40%
Shouldn’t be a crime, wastes resources28%
Not harmful, like alcohol21%
Medical benefits14%
More control, make safer14%
Cannot stop use8%
Legal in other states5%
Criminalization hurts minorities3%
Other8%
No answer7%
   (n)(299)
  IF BAD  [moe=+/-6.8%]Feb.
2019
Harmful, addictive28%
DUI, accidents21%
Minors will have access20%
Bad for society, other crime12%
Gateway drug9%
Decreased productivity6%
Hard to regulate6%
Medical use only5%
Only want tax revenue5%
Other7%
No answer7%
   (n)(211)

15. Do you think legalizing marijuana in New Jersey would help the state’s economy, hurt the state’s economy, or have no impact on the state’s economy?

 TREND:Feb.
2019
April
2018
Help68%60%
Hurt11%16%
No impact16%20%
(VOL) Don’t know5%4%
   (n)(604)(703)

16. Do you think legalizing marijuana in New Jersey would lead to an increase in other drug crimes, lead to a decrease in other drug crimes, or have no impact on the number of other drug crimes?

 TREND:Feb.
2019
April
2018
Increase29%32%
Decrease32%26%
No impact34%39%
(VOL) Don’t know5%3%
   (n)(604)(703)

17. If New Jersey legalizes marijuana, would you support or oppose giving people who were previously convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana the opportunity to clear those charges from their criminal records?

Feb.
2019
Support74%
Oppose18%
(VOL) Depends on amount4%
(VOL) Don’t know4%
   (n)(604)

[Q18-24 previously released.]
[Q25-37 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 8 to 10, 2019 with a random sample of 604 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 301 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 303 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
20% Republican
45% Independent
34% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
29% 18-34
37% 35-54
34% 55+
 
58% White
13% Black
18% Hispanic
10% Asian/Other
 
64% No college degree
36% College graduate
 
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs