One year after the sale of recreational cannabis was legalized in New Jersey, 78 percent of residents agree that its medicinal benefits outweigh potential risks and harms, and 58 percent said the same about the benefits of recreational use, according to a New Jersey State Policy Lab survey on attitudes toward cannabis. 

The poll of 2,000 residents, which included a demographic breakdown, also revealed that more than half the respondents—55 percent—reported smoking weed at least once, according to survey data collected by the Eagleton Institute for the New Jersey State Policy Lab, both at Rutgers University. The report was authored by Charles E. Menifield, professor and dean emeritus of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University-Newark and Yong Chan Rhee, a doctoral student at Rutgers University-Newark.

Find the full report here.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported that they currently smoke cannabis, but only half of those surveyed answered the question, despite being assured their answers were confidential.

A whopping 91 percent agreed that marijuana can help people with certain medical conditions, while almost two-thirds, 63 percent, agreed that it should be legal for adults to grow marijuana for personal use.

The survey is one of the first to gauge Jerseyans’ attitudes and usage  since voters approved the recreational sale of marijuana in the fall of 2021, joining 20 other states that have done the same.

“The main thrust of the data is, basically, a very large percentage of residents thinks it’s okay to purchase and use marijuana for personal consumption,’’ said Menifield. “The findings are consistent with citizens’ perceptions based on their votes approving the ballot referendum.’’

As the state continues to develop its regulation of cannabis sale, usage and possession, survey results like these are useful, he said.

 “Public attitudes are critical for policy makers on many levels,’’ said Menifield. “Hence, it’s important for all bureaucrats to know where people stand in relation to this.’’

He noted that the high rate of approval for growing marijuana for personal use could indicate that sales from licensed vendors have the potential to be impacted.

“If you are growing marijuana inside your house, you could get two or three crops a year. That would affect retail sales and reduce the funds the government could collect in taxes,’’ he said.

Although the majority (63 percent) of New Jersey residents are fine with legalizing adults growing cannabis for personal use, the survey results show that attitudes diverge when it comes to education, income, political affiliation, and race or ethnicity.  

• Three-quarters of Democrats (76 percent) supported legalizing adults growing cannabis for personal use,  compared to a smaller majority (54 percent) of Republicans.

• Fewer respondent with a high school diploma or less (57 percent) supported legalizing adults growing marijuana, compared to more than 60 percent of those with at least some college education. 

• Among different races and ethnicities, there are smaller differences. While Black and white respondents expressed similar agreement that adults should be able to grow marijuana--60 percent of Black people and 64 percent of White people --support among Hispanic residents was 58 percent. It was 56 percent for Asian respondents.

The New Jersey State Policy Lab gratefully acknowledges its funding from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.