Nearly two-thirds of New Jersey voters support legalizing the adult use of marijuana and expunging past criminal convictions associated with the substance, according to statewide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.
Sixty-two percent of voters say that they support allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Support is strongest among voters ages 18 to 34 years of age (90 percent) and Democrats (78 percent). Support was weakest among Republicans (41 percent) and those voters over the age of 65 (46 percent).
“New Jersey legislators must support the will of their constituents and approve legislation to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in New Jersey,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.
He added: “New Jersey holds the dubious distinction of ranking second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color, violates civil liberties, and is an egregious waste of public resources that can be reprioritized elsewhere. The people of New Jersey are ready to end this failed prohibition and move toward the sensible policy of legalization and regulation. State lawmakers should not make them wait any longer.”
Sixty-three percent of voters also say that they support “erasing criminal records for marijuana possession.” Once again, those voters ages 34 and younger were most supportive of the changes (81 percent), as were Democrats (74 percent).
The new polling data comes just days after Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly announced that leadership has likely secured sufficient support in both chambers to pass an adult use legalization reform act.
Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on a pledge to reform the state’s marijuana policies, and yesterday reiterated his hopes to sign legislative reforms by the end of this year. In his spring budget address, Gov. Murphy said: “Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities – especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided war on drugs – in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. …. [F]rom the standpoint of social justice, and from the standpoint of protecting our kids and lifting up our communities, I could not arrive at any other conclusion.”
In July, the state’s Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend marijuana-related prosecutions until early September.