Plurality of New Jerseyans Support Cannabis Tax Revenue Being Used for Education and Public Health Initiatives

The Gold Dome.

 

With racial justice in mind, New Jersey’s recent cannabis legalization and decriminalization laws aimed to redress historical harms associated with the war on drugs by investing in those communities most impacted. However, it is unclear what the government meant by “investing.”

When asked where they would like to see tax revenue generated from cannabis sales spent, half of New Jerseyans agreed that the state should invest in education and public health initiatives. These latest results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in partnership with researchers Nathan Link of Rutgers University – Camden and Jordan Hyatt of Drexel University.

“The Cannabis Regulatory Commission has been holding public hearings on how to spend the revenue, and there is no better way to assess what the public thinks than by taking a representative sample of all New Jerseyans,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “While education and public health initiatives edge their way to the top, preferences span a number of important state issues, with a notable number of New Jerseyans wanting to prioritize things like affordable housing and transportation.”

Slightly more than one in five people polled support spending cannabis revenue on education (23 percent) and public and community health initiatives including drug treatment centers (21 percent). Less than one in five say it should be spent on affordable housing development (15 percent), transportation and infrastructure (13 percent), and ever fewer support funding for police, courts, and prisons (11 percent). New Jerseyans least support using the revenue for campaigns on the dangers of substance use (four percent). Thirteen percent give another answer or are unsure what the revenue should be spent on.

When first and second priorities are combined, about half of all New Jerseyans agree that the revenue should be spent on education and public health initiatives.

“This is a big deal and a needed conversation,” said Nathan Link, assistant professor and graduate director in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Rutgers—Camden. “What sets this legislation apart from that of the other states that have legalized and decriminalized cannabis are the critical benefits for social and racial justice that arise from implementing a permanent funding structure that potentially targets schools, health, and the well-being of people living in New Jersey’s most disadvantaged communities.”

Democrats (25 percent) and independents (25 percent) are more likely than Republicans (16 percent) to say investing in education should be the top priority. Republicans instead say the top priority for revenue should be funding police, courts and prisons (21 percent).

“Investment preferences are divided by familiar partisan lines,” said Jessica Roman, a research associate of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Republicans’ first priority for the revenue is reminiscent of their overall ‘tough on crime’ approach, whereas police, court, and prison funding is the farthest thing from Democrats’ minds.”

Black residents (38 percent) are more likely than residents of other races and ethnicities to feel the state should primarily invest the revenue in affordable housing development.

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted by live interviewers on landlines and cell phones from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8, 2022. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points. This research received funding from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at the Moritz College of Law of The Ohio State University.

Read the full press release.

 

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ABOUT THE EAGLETON CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEREST POLLING (ECPIP)
Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship university is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It is home to internationally acclaimed faculty and has 12 degree-granting schools and a Division I Athletics program. It is the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse university. Through its community of teachers, scholars, artists, scientists, and healers, Rutgers is equipped as never before to transform lives.

ABOUT THE EAGLETON INSTITUTE OF POLITICS
The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University—New Brunswick studies how American politics and government work and change, analyzes how the democracy might improve, and promotes political participation and civic engagement. The Institute explores state and national politics through research, education, and public service, linking the study of politics with its day-to-day practice.

ABOUT RUTGERS—NEW BRUNSWICK
Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It has an internationally acclaimed faculty, 12 degree-granting schools and the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse student body.

 

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