68 percent of NJ voters for adult-use cannabis legalization, poll finds

Gabrielle Saulsbery//July 28, 2020//

68 percent of NJ voters for adult-use cannabis legalization, poll finds

Gabrielle Saulsbery//July 28, 2020//

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More than two-thirds of New Jersey voters support adult use cannabis, according to the first in a series of polls conducted by Brach Eichler LLC’s cannabis law practice.

While 68 percent said they would vote in favor of the November ballot public question, 26 percent said they would oppose it, and 6 percent said they were unsure.

Adult use cannabis legalization has support across political lines, the Brach Eichler Cannabis Poll found. Democrats supported it at 78 percent with 19 percent opposing; Republicans had 57 percent in favor of legalization, compared to 39 percent opposed; and Independents responded with 63 percent supporting and 27 percent opposed.

More than half of the respondents – 57 percent – said they were not cannabis users and 17 percent said they were; 14 percent said they had used previously, and 9 percent said they’d consider trying it if it was legalized.

Charles X. Gormally, director of litigation at Brach Eichler.

“As New Jersey voters consider creating a new multi-billion-dollar industry in the heart of the largest metropolitan area in the country, we believe it is important to assess the marketplace attitudes and public sentiments about cannabis to help us guide both our clients and regulators,” said Charles Gormally, co-chair of the cannabis law practice at the firm, in a prepared statement.

“The polling results confirmed our belief that there is overwhelming support for the creation of a regulated, adult-use cannabis marketplace in New Jersey,” added co-chair John Fanburg in a prepared statement. “Respondents supported it because it will create tremendous opportunity. It will create vitally needed new businesses, the state will receive significant tax revenues and illegal sales will be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated. Voters see this as a win for everyone.”

The poll also measured support for consumption lounges, akin to bars for cannabis, along with home delivery, online purchasing, home rule, and how to address the social equity issues that have arisen from the thousands of arrests attributed to the War on Drugs.

John Fanburg, Brach Eichler.

“Prior legislative efforts to legalize allowed each municipality to decide themselves if cannabis businesses would be allowed in their towns. While home rule was considered an important part of prior legislation, the poll revealed a decidedly split view of the issue. Just 44 percent favored local control, 41 percent opposed it and 15 percent were unsure,” Fanburg said.

Regarding where cannabis consumption should occur, 71 percent of respondents were in favor of limiting it to private property and 26 percent opposed. Fifty percent of respondents favored cannabis consumption lounges, while 38 percent were opposed. The opportunity to purchase cannabis online and have it delivered to homes was favored 55 percent to 33 percent.

“One issue that is particularly important to us is how we should reconcile the social justice impact of the thousands of previous criminal convictions for conduct that will now be considered legal,” Fanburg said. “It is well recognized that minority populations in New Jersey were arrested and incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses disproportionate to non-minority populations.”

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said it would be appropriate to clear the criminal records of anyone convicted of a low-level cannabis offense.

”The strong level of support for correcting this decades-old inequality, especially in the context of recent protests of inherent bias in law enforcement, should be well noted by our legislators who will be tasked with correcting this unfortunate consequence of the failed policy of prohibition,” said Gormally.

Future Brach Eichler cannabis polls will gauge how New Jersey voter attitudes about cannabis change as Election Day, Nov. 3, approaches.

Brach Eichler and DKC Analytics questioned 500 registered New Jersey voters from July 7 to 12 to conduct this survey. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.