Most in N.J. favor reducing pot penalties, but only half support legalization, poll finds

Support for reducing marijuana penalties in New Jersey is increasing — but voters remain divided on whether to completely legalize it.

Two-thirds of voters now support reducing the penalties for possessing small amounts of pot, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll. That’s a sharp increase from the 40 percent who felt that way four decades ago.

“Younger people have come in, and older people have disappeared,” said David Redlawsk, poll director. “So that folks who were 18 to 29 years old back in 1972 were strongly in favor of eliminating penalties for possession of marijuana. Those folks, who are now in their 60s and 70s, remain strongly in favor.”

There’s less support for legalization of marijuana for recreational use with 49 percent of voters favoring that, and 48 percent opposed. New Jersey already has a medical marijuana program.

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Potential for significant state revenue from legalization is not having a big influence on voter opinion, Redlawsk said.

Gov. Chris Christie, who has insisted that legalizing marijuana is not the right thing for New Jersey, has vowed it won’t happen while he’s in office.

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