On the day legal recreational marijuana sales began in New Jersey, a Stockton University poll showed a majority of Garden State residents support the new industry, but slightly fewer believe that it should be used as an engine to stimulate tourism.
John Froonjian, director of the university’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, said 56% of 640 survey respondents would be open to opening a cannabis dispensary in their city.
Still, there are resisters who disapprove (36%) even though the hobby is now legitimate, and Froonjian said they might have a few specific reasons.
“Marijuana could be a gateway drug or a concern about health issues related to its use,” he said. “So I’m not surprised that there’s still a percentage of people who aren’t that happy with that.”
According to state data cited by Stockton, New Jersey’s hospitality and tourism industry employs 9% of the state’s workforce, and with that in mind, exactly half (50%) of those surveyed said they would like to see legal cannabis promoted for tourism purposes.
“They would appreciate it if (the state) offered cannabis-related attractions, such as lounges, restaurants where people could go and consume weed,” Froonjian said.
According to Froonjian, demographic indicators such as gender, racial and ethnic origin, and income level did not vary greatly when it came to who would approve of marijuana sales in their city and who would not.
But geography mattered a bit: While Ocean County, which is traditionally politically conservative, remained opposed, the state’s six southernmost counties combined to earn 55% approval in the poll.
This region has been hit hard economically by the COVID-19 pandemic, Froonjian says, and could be boosted by tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales, 70% of which has been earmarked for “the most economically challenged communities.” affected by past marijuana convictions”. as the Stockton press release says.
Residents may already have an idea of the specific use of these funds.
“37% of them would actually like the money to go to education and 13% to social services,” Froonjian said.
Respondents were strongly opposed to the unregulated sale of hemp, which is legal, over the counter; 67% disagreed with this arrangement.
And while much has been said about the nearly 18-month lag between the recreational pot being approved by voters and its eventual availability – not to mention its arrival in Governor Phil Murphy’s fifth year in office, as part of his initial campaign platform. – New Jersey residents didn’t really care about the wait, according to the poll.
Just over 1 in 4 (27%) found the lapse “unacceptable”, with 22% finding it reasonable and 50% having no opinion.
Froonjian said this was likely due to the relative disinterest many respondents may have had in actually using cannabis products, believing they were supporting it for tax revenue or social justice reasons.
“They may support politics and yet personally, will never buy it, consume it, and that’s not inconsistent,” he said.
Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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