Poll: 85% of New Jerseyans Back Medical Marijuana; Divided on Recreational Marijuana

Murphy, right, and Sweeney.
The attached poll commissioned in May by the labor-tied Project NJ Building for a Better Future, found that New Jerseyans overwhelmingly support medical marijuana and are split on recreational marijuana, and a majority of New Jerseyans want 100 or fewer recreational marijuana stores if marijuana is legalized for adult use.
Two sources familiar with negotiations between the two houses of the Legislature have confirmed that Senators Sweeney, Scutari, and Vitale, and Assemblymen Coughlin, Danielsen, and Holley met at least twice over the past month to hammer out legislation to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and, separately, to legalize marijuana for adult use. One point of contention between the Legislature and the Governor’s Office will be the number of licensed growers and dispensaries in a legalized marijuana market. The Governor’s Office previously sought 400 to 1,200 recreational marijuana dispensaries during negotiations in June, while some legislators remain anxious to avoid the Colorado model of marijuana dispensaries on every street corner and would prefer to limit the number to 80 to 100 statewide (roughly the same number as Taco Bells in the state), and 20 to 30 growers and manufacturers to avoid the oversupply and diversion challenges faced by West Coast states that have legalized marijuana.
On the heels of more favorable poll numbers released earlier in August, the current drafts of the legislation that leadership is considering do not set any limits on the number of dispensaries, but rather punt the question to a five-member commission to be comprised of a majority of gubernatorial appointees.
Both houses are expected to convene in September to vote on both bills. One source suggested five Republican votes would be needed to pass the adult use bill in the Senate.
Poll info:
51% of NJ likely voters want 100 or fewer recreational marijuana dispensaries, if marijuana is legalized for adult use, and 75% of New Jerseyans want 200 or fewer adult use dispensaries (or NO dispensaries at all).
The largest group in the 75% (24%) wants no more than one recreational dispensary per county or 21 statewide, similar to Nevada where there are roughly 50-60 dispensaries statewide (and much bigger land area than NJ).
Methodology: Global Strategy Group conducted a recent telephone survey among 603 likely odd-year voters. The sampling margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/-4.0%. The margin of error on sub-samples may be greater.
  1. New Jerseyans’ support for the use of medical marijuana is overwhelming across every demographic.  85% support, only 12% support, 3% “don’t know.”  This even includes 79% support among Republicans surveyed.
  2. By a narrow majority, consistent with other recent polls, New Jerseyans support the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use.  47% support, 46% oppose, 7% “don’t know.”  Democrats (55-38-7) and younger voters (65-4-31 in the 18-44 age range) are more supportive, while older and Republican voters are more likely to be opposed.  Among those opposed, the top reason cited for opposing legalizing marijuana was that it is a gateway drug or that it leads to addiction (which happens to be a myth).
  3. Should marijuana be legalized for adult use, there is strong support for strict regulations (82% favor strict regulations if legalized), with voters supporting restrictions on advertising, a strong inspection regime, and local authority on approving dispensaries.
  4. New Jersey voters only want a limited number of dispensaries if marijuana is legalized for adult use.  Limits on dispensaries are important to both supporters and opponents of legalization.  75% of New Jerseyans want 200 or fewer adult use dispensaries (or NO dispensaries at all).  A majority (51%) actually want 100 dispensaries or fewer statewide.  Only 17% wanted 400 or more (i.e., unlimited) dispensaries.  9% refused to answer.  The breakdown follows.
  • If recreational marijuana was made legal in New Jersey, would you want to see it available…?
In a limited number of locations, such as one dispensary per county, totaling 21 in the state …………… 24%
Up to two dispensaries per county, totaling 42 in the state …………… 15
An average of five per county, or about 100 statewide, resulting in roughly the same number of marijuana dispensaries as Taco Bells in the state …………… 12
An average of 10 per county, or about 200 statewide, resulting in more marijuana dispensaries than Burger Kings in the state …………… 7
As many as 400 statewide …………… 1
Unlimited dispensaries …………… 16
VOL:      (Wouldn’t want any/none) …………… 17
VOL:      (Don’t know/Refused) …………… 9
  • Voters support quite a number of limitations and conditions in exchange for legalizing marijuana for recreational uses, as the following table shows.
How important is it to you that each of the following is implemented as part of the law [legalizing recreational use of marijuana]?
Very important
Restrict advertising including limits on TV and internet advertising by marijuana dispensaries, to minimize exposure to children
Make sure laws are strictly enforced and include regular inspections of marijuana businesses
Mandate frequent lab testing of marijuana products to protect public health and detect pesticides and contaminants
Collect significant tax revenue to help hold the line on property taxes
Ensure the preservation of clinical research and development efforts related to medical marijuana by dispensaries, medical schools and hospitals
Collect significant tax revenue to discourage addiction and abuse, as is done with cigarettes and alcohol
Ensure that cities, towns and local communities have the final say on whether or not to have a dispensary in their community and where it will be located
Create good paying jobs and ensure fair wages and health benefits for workers in marijuana businesses


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