cannabis convictions

Sixty-eight percent of New Jersey voters support cannabis legalization in a new poll conducted by the Cannabis Law Practice of the law firm Brach Eichler LLC.

The Brach Eichler cannabis poll found support for the ballot initiative from all political corners; Democrats supported it by 78 to 19 percent; Republicans 57 to 39 percent; and Independents 63 to 27 percent.  Interestingly, most of the respondents, 57 percent, said they were not marijuana users, and just 17 percent said they used it, 14 percent said they had previously, and 9 percent said they’d consider trying it if it was legalized.

“As New Jersey voters consider creating a new multi-billion-dollar industry in the heart of the largest metropolitan area in the country, we believe it is important to assess the marketplace attitudes and public sentiments about cannabis to help us guide both our clients and regulators,” said Charles X. Gormally, Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at Brach Eichler.

In addition to confirming widespread support for the referendum which would amend the New Jersey Constitution to create an adult-use cannabis marketplace, the Brach Eichler cannabis poll measured support for “consumption lounges”, like hookah lounges or Dutch coffeehouses, home delivery, online purchasing, home rule, and how to address the social justice issues resulting from prior criminal convictions for marijuana use or possession.

 “Respondents supported it because it will create tremendous opportunity. It will create vitally needed new businesses, the state will receive significant tax revenues and illegal sales will be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated.  Voters see this as a win for everyone,” said Co-Chair John D. Fanburg.

Prior legislative efforts to legalize allowed municipalities to decide if cannabis businesses would be allowed in their town. The poll revealed a split view of the issue. Just 44 percent favored local control, 41 percent opposed it, and 15 percent were unsure.

Given the support for the creation of the marketplace, it appears most supporters have overcome negative perceptions that might motivate them to support banning it in their local communities. Small town governments are especially eager to ban clinical and recreational cannabis prior to legalization

Opinions varied on where cannabis use should occur.  Asked if it should be limited to private property, 71 percent were in favor, with 26 percent opposed. Cannabis consumption lounges were favored by a margin of 50 to 38 percent.  Online purchases via home delivery were favored 55 percent to 33 percent. These market features have become a part of other state’s cannabis markets. The poll revealed that 68 percent of respondents felt it was also appropriate to clear the criminal records of anyone convicted of a low-level criminal charge related to marijuana.

”The strong level of support for correcting this decades-old inequality, especially in the context of recent protests of inherent bias in law enforcement, should be well noted by our legislators who will be tasked with correcting this unfortunate consequence of the failed policy of prohibition,” said Gormally.

Apparently they did not poll homegrow.

Cannabis Poll Results and Implications

The cannabis poll put the results in the context of the upcoming presidential election. A total of 51 percent said they supported the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, compared to 33 percent who said they supported Trump. Eight percent were unsure, and seven percent said they favored another candidate. Given the overarching support for the cannabis referendum, it appears support for Trump or Biden does not impact one’s view on the subject.

The survey, executed by DKC Analytics, questioned 500 registered New Jersey voters from July 7 to 12, 2020. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. Because it was conducted using scientific principles, the results can be extrapolated to the great population.

Brach Eichler, a thought leader in cannabis law, was one of the first New Jersey law firms to form a cannabis law practice committed to providing counsel to those seeking to understand the laws surrounding cannabis. 

While a bunch of self-interested, sanctimonious old politicians could not agree on cannabis legalization, the will of the people will be shown on November 3rd. The problem is they still need to enact implementation legislation after the referendum passes. Ideally, the referendum will lead to swift implementation. But ideals don’t do well in New Jersey.

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