Nearly 60 percent of New Jerseyans support marijuana legalization and believe it will give a boost to the state economy, according to a Monmouth University poll.
The support comes from both sides of the political aisle — 65 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 45 percent of Republicans — and support has jumped 11 points over the last four years.
In each of those political affiliations, between 50 percent and 68 percent of respondents believe that legal weed would help the state’s economy.
“The strongest argument for marijuana legalization may be the bandwagon effect,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “With many other states doing it, most New Jerseyans seem to view such a move as a potential economic boon with a limited downside.”
But there is downside, according to the 37 percent of respondents opposed to legal weed.
About 32 percent said that New Jersey marijuana legalization would lead to an increase in drug crimes, though another 39 percent said there would be no impact and 26 percent said legal weed would lead to a decrease.
The Monmouth poll did not include questions or responses about decriminalization, which some legislators view as a compromise. If marijuana is decriminalized but not legalized, those charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana would be subject to a violation similar to a traffic ticket.
A PublicMind poll released in February by Fairleigh Dickinson University included responses for legalization, decriminalization and keeping the weed illegal. About 42 percent of respondents to the FDU poll supported legalization and 26 percent supported decriminalization, with 27 percent in favor of keeping the drug illegal.
Gov. Phil Murphy has vowed to sign a bill legalizing marijuana by the end of the year, citing social justice concerns as more black people are arrested for marijuana crimes than white people, despite similar rates of usage.
“Even though increasing drug crime is not a major concern in the marijuana legalization debate, the public sees other serious issues with drug use, especially opioids,” Murray said.
According to the Monmouth Poll, 86 percent of New Jerseyans called opioid addiction a “serious problem,” with 20 percent saying that it’s a worse problem in the Garden State than elsewhere. About 59 percent believe the state “is not doing enough to deal with the opioid problem,” according to the poll.