New Jerseyans Support Marijuana Legalization, Expungement, Taxation

Large majorities believe legalization will help state’s economy, areas in state with high marijuana arrest rates

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey legislators haven’t decided whether to legalize cannabis for personal use, but the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows more state residents favor than oppose – by a hefty margin of 58 percent to 37 percent – completely legalizing the possession and personal use of recreational marijuana.

Garden State opinions have been changing in recent years: almost one-third of those who currently favor legalization say they used to oppose it. Moreover, most view legalization as an issue of social justice – 79 percent believe individuals penalized for possessing a small amount of marijuana should be allowed to clear their records.

The poll also finds:

  • Half of all adults admit to having tried marijuana; one-quarter say they would consider using it if legalized.
  • The vast majority of New Jerseyans believe the sale, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana would help the state’s economy; most (64 percent) say they would not be bothered if a store selling marijuana opened in their town.
  • By a 45 percent to 12 percent margin, more people think marijuana is less rather than more harmful than alcohol.

“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Support has built up slowly in the past five decades, with this being the first time a majority has ever sided with legalization. New Jerseyans are now almost three times as likely to support it as they were in 1971.” Koning noted that a national Gallup Poll conducted in early October likewise found 66 percent of all Americans favored the legalization of marijuana.

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from Oct. 12-19. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Delaware Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Bill Into Law

DELAWARE: Democrat Gov. John Carney has signed legislation into law vacating past, low-level marijuana convictions.

Senate Bill 197, which took immediate effect, “provides mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession [of one ounce or less], use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.”

State lawmakers in 2015 enacted legislation reducing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal act to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine only – no arrest, and no criminal record.

To be eligible for expungement under the new law, the defendant must have no other criminal convictions on their record.

In recent years, lawmakers in several states – including MassachusettsMarylandOregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted similar expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization. In California, legislation providing for mandatory expungement of past marijuana convictions is awaiting the Governor’s signature. An estimated 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the proposed California law.

According to a nationwide poll released in June, 73 percent of Americans support the enactment of legislation “to automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of crimes related to the possession of marijuana.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Delaware NORML.