According to a recent poll, 21% of voters say the pandemic has caused them to change their support for marijuana legalization.
Early signs indicate significant support for recreational marijuana legalization in New Jersey. One poll this summer found almost 7 out of 10 residents favored ending prohibition and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy suggested the act “an incredibly smart thing to do” as a post-pandemic fix for the economy.
“We’re not inventing marijuana,” Murphy said. “It exists.”
But the coronavirus pandemic is influencing how locals feel about legalization, according to a recent poll from Brach Eichler’s Cannabis Law Practice. Participants who previously planned to vote against the measure in November have since changed their mind. About 21% said the outbreak has reshaped their position on cannabis.
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Among those survey, 13.5% said the pandemic caused them to now favor legalization while 7.5% now oppose such action. In total, the poll reported 65% of New Jersey residents strongly supported or somewhat supported the ballot question.
“I was somewhat surprised that it did influence that many people,” Charles Gormally, co-chair of the firm’s Cannabis Law Practice, told NJ.com. “I really think the reason it influenced people is a natural derivative of beginning to accept the concept that cannabis isn’t harmful, and may in fact have a positive impact in many circumstances.”
Murphy campaigned on legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey and has attempted to push legislation through multiples times with little success. Last year, the Republican-led Senate killed a bill that would’ve ended prohibition. Lawmakers placed marijuana legalization to voters instead as a result.
The poll also showed that promotional material and ad campaigns for and against legalization have yet to influence voters. Only 25% of participants in the poll said they’d seen any such campaigns and it is unclear yet what impact it could have at the ballots.
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“With the drumbeat of the national election cycle quickening, and the Democrat support for decriminalization, it is likely that we will see a continuing erosion of the desire to maintain what is widely regarded as a failed policy of cannabis prohibition,” Gormally told The Fresh Toast in a statement. “This erosion will support further interest in creating an adult use, regulated cannabis marketplace with New Jersey voters.”