Large majorities believe legalization will help state’s economy, areas in state with high marijuana arrest rates


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – New Jersey legislators haven’t decided whether to legalize cannabis for personal use, but the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows more state residents favor than oppose – by a hefty margin of 58 percent to 37 percent – completely legalizing the possession and personal use of recreational marijuana.


Garden State opinions have been changing in recent years: almost one-third of those who currently favor legalization say they used to oppose it. Moreover, most view legalization as an issue of social justice – 79 percent believe individuals penalized for possessing a small amount of marijuana should be allowed to clear their records.


The poll also finds:

  • Half of all adults admit to having tried marijuana; one-quarter say they would consider using it if legalized.
  • The vast majority of New Jerseyans believe the sale, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana would help the state’s economy; most (64 percent) say they would not be bothered if a store selling marijuana opened in their town.
  • By a 45 percent to 12 percent margin, more people think marijuana is less rather than more harmful than alcohol.


“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Support has built up slowly in the past five decades, with this being the first time a majority has ever sided with legalization. New Jerseyans are now almost three times as likely to support it as they were in 1971.” Koning noted that a national Gallup Poll conducted in early October likewise found 66 percent of all Americans favored the legalization of marijuana.


Results are from a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from Oct. 12-19. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.




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