As the lasting image of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie loafing around on a closed down beach lingers in Garden State residents’ heads, the tide is slowly turning on the state's recreational cannabis debate. With Christie on his way out, Jersey has become a potential frontrunner to legalize pot next year, and some lawmakers believe the evergreen industry can help supplement the state's faltering gambling business.
A newly published Quinnipiac University Poll shows that New Jersey voters are also warming up to the idea of legal weed. The poll found that 59 percent of voters support legal possession of marijuana for personal use. Strangely enough, 55 percent also stated that they would "definitely not try" marijuana even if it were legalized, hinting that non-users are becoming receptive to cannabis reform as well.
On the demographic level, Republican voters were the only group that did not ultimately support marijuana usage, with 53 percent demurring legalization. The poll also looked at how voters felt about the safety of marijuana use, and found results that bode relatively well for recreational cannabis. Only 12 percent believe that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, while 38 percent think it’s safer. An additional 46 percent think that both are equally harmful.
Although Gov. Christie remains a staunch opponent who refuses to address cannabis legalization, the unpopular statesman will officially leave office in January 2018. Working at the head of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Christie has refused to acknowledge the beneficial role of marijuana in treating opioid addiction.
However, the new poll also suggests that New Jersey voters are increasingly dismayed with the governor’s performance. A whopping 79 percent of poll participants are dissatisfied with Christie’s job in office, while 61 percent disapprove of President Donald Trump. On the other hand, a number of prominent New Jersey politicians have expressed support for recreational marijuana. Earlier this year, Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation to end prohibition on the federal level, while the state’s 2018 gubernatorial hopeful Phil Murphy has indicated his strong backing of legalization.
The Quinnipiac University Poll surveyed more than 1,100 registered New Jersey voters, and represents valuable insight into which way the state will lean on vital issues in the foreseeable future. While lawmakers look towards recreational cannabis to help bring more tax revenue into the state, Garden State residents also appear eager to beat New York and Pennsylvania to the punch as the first in the tri-state to legalize weed.