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Poll: Four in 10 Support Legalizing Marijuana in NJ [AUDIO]

The number of registered voters in the Garden State who support the legalization of marijuana in small amounts for recreational use is growing according to a statewide survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

Legal Sale Of Recreational Marijuana Begins In Colorado
Legal Sale Of Recreational Marijuana Begins In Colorado (Theo Stroomer, Getty Images)

Better than four in 10 registered voters support the legalization of small quantities of marijuana for recreational use, while 52 percent of registered voters are opposed. Eighty percent have heard or read “a lot” or “some” news about states that have recently legalized the drug. State Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden) recently proposed a bill to make it law.

“These numbers point to the possibility that fertile ground exists in the state for those looking to expand legalization beyond medicinal use,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science. “Policymakers will likely be watching for changes in public opinion as the percentage difference between those in favor and opposed gets closer to the 50/50 mark. Right now, however, a majority of the public remains opposed.”

Forty-two percent of the poll respondents say they’ve tried pot. More Democrats (46 percent) than Republicans (37 percent) have tried it, but Baby Boomers (57 percent) lead the pack when compared to everyone else. Marijuana users support legalization in New Jersey significantly more than non-users, 62 percent versus 25 percent.

Has the law allowing medicinal use of marijuana in New Jersey helped the state, hurt the state, or made no difference? Two-thirds (63 percent) say the legalization of medical marijuana has neither helped nor hurt the state, with opinion fairly constant across a variety of demographic categories.

Meanwhile, the percentage of New Jerseyans who favor online gaming has dipped, despite the fact that it was recently legalized, and increasing numbers of players are registering with New Jersey casinos. Thirty-two percent support Internet gambling, with 57 percent opposed. This is a decline from a March 2013 survey when 41 percent favored online gambling and 46 percent said they were opposed.

Those who have visited a casino in the last year are far more likely to support online gaming, with roughly four in 10 of those gamblers in support of the legalization. Women remain more opposed than men. Sixty-seven percent of women reject online gambling’s legalization, compared with 47 percent of men.

“The public’s attitude was, for several years, warming up to online gambling, but there has been a clear change in direction, now that the practice has actually been legalized,”  Jenkins said. “Part of the public has always shown deep reluctance to make gambling so accessible in their own homes. Now that it is in fact legal, they may be more concerned than ever.”

The survey of 734 registered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Jan. 20 through Jan. 26 and has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points.

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