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Cannabis

Polls Find Voters In Pennsylvania, New Jersey Support Legal Marijuana

More and more it seems the legal cannabis industry will not always be just a West Coast thing.
Polls Find Voters In Pennsylvania, New Jersey Support Legal Marijuana
Image credit: The Washington Post | Getty Images
3 min read

As with many trends over the years, support for the legalization of marijuana is spreading from the West to the East in the United States.

Two new polls have found that voters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania favor allowing sale and possession of recreational, or adult use, marijuana. Nearly 60 percent of voters in both states supported legalization.

Perhaps not coincidentally, voters in New Jersey also voiced historically low support for Gov. Chris Christie. The Republican has voiced strong opposition to legalizing marijuana. He’s also leaving office in January 2018.

Of the eight states that have legalized adult-use recreational marijuana sales, only two -- Maine and Massachusetts -- are east of the Mississippi River. The six western states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Sales are underway in some states but others are set to in 2018.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are, respectively, the sixth and eleventh most populous states and would be huge markets for the burgeoning marijuana industry.

Related: Maine Might Legalize Drive-Through and Internet Cannabis Sales

Jersey's biggest pot opponent is deeply unpopular.

Christie has not been subtle in his opposition to legalized marijuana. Earlier this year, he went on a rant on the topic. He called marijuana legalization “beyond stupidity” and said the entire movement is supported by “crazy liberals who want to say everything is OK.”

That’s debatable, obviously. What’s not debatable is how much voters in New Jersey do not like Christie. His numbers have become the new standard for “deeply unpopular.”

A recent poll done by Quinnipiac University found that 79 percent of voters are dissatisfied with Christie’s performance. That’s the lowest approval rating of any state governor in the 20 years Quinnipiac University has conducted such surveys.

Even 61 percent of Republicans voiced a lack of support for Christie.

Meanwhile, the issue he opposes is picking up popularity. In the same survey, Quinnipiac found that 59 percent are in favor of legal possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Democrats in New Jersey have introduced legislation to make adult-use marijuana legal. They estimate a Colorado-style recreational marijuana market will yield $300 million in annual tax revenue. New Jersey elects a new governor in November. The Democrat candidate, Phil Murphy, supports legalization and commands a 25 percentage point lead over his Republican opponent, who has served the past eights years as Christie's lieutenant governor.

Related: 3 Must-Dos to Prepare for When Cannabis Is Federally Legal

Keystone State Evolution

Pennsylvania voters also voiced support for adult use marijuana in a poll released by Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn. This in a state that has historically been fairly conservative on social issues.

According the survey, 59 percent of voters approve of legalized recreational marijuana. That number stood at just 22 percent in 2006, polling director Terry Madonna told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Notice the evolution,” Madonna said. “It’s been a slow and inexorable growth in support during the past decade.” He went on to say that “nobody has ever accused {Pennsylvania] of being on the cultural vanguard.”

The survey, conducted in September, asked questions of 400 registered voters.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has called for legalization, saying “the public is ahead of the politicians on this issue.”

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