New Yorkers Still Support Legalization, Even as Legislative Support Falters
The head of the state's Democratic Party is claiming that voters in upstate New York are opposed to legalization, but a new poll suggests that is not the case.
Published on June 11, 2019

Although support for New York's new adult-use legalization bill seems to be faltering among state legislators, a new poll indicates that a majority of the Empire State's residents are still firmly in favor of legal weed.

A newly published Siena College poll asked over 800 New Yorkers to share their opinions on the adult-use bill, along with several other bills that lawmakers are considering before the end of this year's legislative session. 55 percent of respondents expressed their support for legalization, with 40 percent opposed. These numbers are a slight boost over a similar poll conducted in April that reported 52 percent support and 42 percent opposition.

“There continues to be support for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a press release. “It has strong support from Democrats and independents, while Republicans oppose it, albeit narrowly, 53-40 percent. Voters under 35 support it 75-23 percent, while voters 55 and older oppose it 54-42 percent.”

Yet in spite of this majority support, the head of the state's Democratic Party is warning lawmakers that saying yes to marijuana legalization could get them kicked out of office. Party chairman Jay Jacobs recently claimed that residents of Long Island and upstate New York are strongly opposed to legal weed, and therefore might choose to vote out Democrats who support these measures at the next election.

The poll debunks Jacobs' claims, however. Support for legalization remained consistent throughout the state, and respondents from urban areas were actually less likely to support the bill than those hailing from more rural areas. Only 52 percent of city residents said they were in favor of legal weed, compared with 55 percent of suburban voters. In upstate New York — where Jacobs said support is weak — 59 percent of respondents supported legalization.

In an interesting twist of fate, the head of the state's Republican party appears to be more open to supporting adult-use. “I don’t have the same hostility toward the legalization of marijuana as maybe my predecessors did,” said state GOP leader Nick Langworthy, according to Marijuana Moment. Langworthy believes, however, that Republicans “should not be trying to lead the pack in the field of legalizing of marijuana."

Lawmakers have until June 19th to decide whether to pass the legalization bill or to put it off until next year, as neighboring New Jersey recently decided to do.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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