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NJ Voters Want Gov. Murphy to Pardon Low-level Cannabis Convictions

New Jersey voters are behind legalizing adult-use cannabis and Gov. Phil Murphy pardoning those with low-level cannabis convictions.

A new poll was conducted by the law firm Brach Eichler LLC. It said New Jersey voters support adult-use cannabis. They also feel low-level cannabis convictions should be forgotten. The poll showed 68 percent favored Gov. Murphy issuing pardons, with 21 percent against and 11 percent unsure. The support for pardons was universal. Democrats supported it by a 74 to 16 percent margin. Independents liked it 71 to 20 percent, and Republicans by 57 to 29 percent.

Cannabis Poll Shows Social Justice Favored

“The Brach Eichler cannabis poll, which has consistently reported overwhelming support for legalizing cannabis, today again confirms that New Jersey voters support this long-overdue change by a significant margin,” said Charles X. Gormally, Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at the firm.

For the first time, those polled supported for expunging records of all levels of cannabis convictions. The new poll showed 51 percent in support, with 32 percent opposed and 16 percent unsure. Previous polls showed New Jersey voters split on the issue.

“Their support for pardons and simplified expungements show they approve of justice being done for those who have criminal records for the use or possession of cannabis, which will be legal,” said John D. Fanburg, Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at Brach Eichler.

Support was across party lines for pardons for low-level cannabis convictions. The divide was closer on clean records for all levels of offenses. Democrats backed it 61 to 23 percent, with 16 percent unsure. Republicans were split, with 43 to 42 percent in favor, and 14 were undecided. Independents supported it by 45 to 36 percent but had a large number, 19 percent, unsure.

“The poll also confirmed that New Jersey voters have a strong sense of righting previous wrongs,” said Fanburg.

“While we are seeing some ads regarding the referendum, there seem to be far fewer than for previous referenda,” said Fanburg. “We are also seeing increased awareness of the initiative in the past three weeks, meaning voters have been reading press reports or investigating the issue on their own and not relying on one-sided ads to educate themselves.”

Cannabis Convictions

It’s when you get to high-level convictions that things get tricky. The fact that the Multi-State Operators (MSOs) likely sell as much if not more than high-level traffickers that want pardons as well. That is not as popular as simple possession.

Anyone who has a cannabis conviction for selling more than five pounds is a high-level trafficker under the bill.

NJWeedman qualifies as a high-level trafficker that would be ineligible. Thus, he is severely critical of MSOs, S. 2703, and Scutari. Many people support his position.

Some traffickers are also in jail for other crimes related to operating in the underground market that does not allow them to be included in those eligible for expungement.

Support for legalizing adult-use cannabis continued to cross party lines. The strongest support came from Democrats (75 to 20 percent in favor), followed by Independents (62 to 31 in favor) and Republicans (52 to 39 in favor).

Voters also support Gov. Murphy’s overall performance, with an approval rating of 68 percent to 32 percent. Democrats favored Murphy by 90 to 10 percent; Independents 63 to 37 percent; and Republicans opposed his performance, by 58 to 42 percent.

The poll questioned 500 registered New Jersey voters from October 5 to October 13, 2020, who said they were likely to vote this November. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Brach Eichler, a recognized thought leader in cannabis law, was one of the first New Jersey law firms to form a cannabis law practice.

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